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Calgary Flames

Saddledome Hit Hard by Alberta Floods

USATSI_7230196_154158418_lowresEvery so often, something that goes well beyond the game of hockey hits home. Today, the imagery couldn’t be starker as the Scotiabank Saddledome sits ravaged by floodwaters.

Of course, there are more important stories in the Alberta floods. Much of the city of Calgary remains underwater at this moment, even as some 75,000 or more evacuees are slowly being told they can return to their homes to survey whatever’s left. The city is still in a state of emergency and the floods have claimed at least three lives so far.

As for the Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, floodwaters have reached the eighth row of seats in the lower bowl.

“That means if you were a hockey player walking from the tunnel onto the ice, you would be underwater yourself,” Flames team president Ken King said. “It’s very difficult to describe millions of gallons of water, sitting in that building.”

King described almost everything that sits in that lower bowl of the Saddledome as a “total loss.” Some memorabilia was salvaged, including a contract signed by former Flames captain Jim Peplinski, but almost everything else is gone.

“Everything that happens on the event level is drowned. Everything,” King said.

The Saddledome was built in 1983 for the arrival of the Flames NHL franchise and the 1988 Olympics. It has stood as a symbol of the city since, housing not only the hockey club but the WHL Calgary Hitmen and the National Lacrosse League’s Roughnecks. It also serves as a place for concerts and as an exhibition centre for the Calgary Stampede.

There were rumours that the Jumbotron was on the floor of the Saddledome and was subsequently damaged by floodwaters, but King says that’s not the case. Some of the electronics that operate the scoreboard were locked under four metres of Elbow River water, however.

Many in Calgary are facing suffering of a far worse degree and on a far more personal level. The Saddledome is, as King said, “just real estate.” But it’s also incredibly symbolic of how, at the end of the day, the best game in the world is still just a game after all.

Our thoughts are with everyone in Calgary and Alberta affected by the floods right now.

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