‘Saddledump’: Big acts avoid Cowtown
Why Calgary’s largest venue might be scaring away big-ticket acts, and what we can do about it
Hey, pop music fans. Let me ask you a question: What do Maroon 5, One Direction, and Taylor Swift all have in common? Yes, I know they’re adored beyond belief by fourteen-year-old girls everywhere, but there’s something else. Aside from screaming fan girls and worldwide fame, these artists won’t be coming to Calgary any time soon.
That’s right! These artists are three of nine shows the Chinook City won’t be seeing in 2015, according to their respective official tour dates. As if this wasn’t already bad enough for Calgary music fans, there’s one more fact that adds a little bit of salt in our wounds. All of these acts, as well as the likes of Shania Twain, ACDC and Madonna, are all taking their talents to our neighbors up north for the people of Edmonton to enjoy.
While some are willing to take the three hour trip up the highway to see their favourite music acts, it would be nice to see some of these acts here at home. So why exactly is Calgary getting shafted for large concerts? One theory: the shitty-ass arena we have downtown.
The Saddledome definitely has the capacity to entertain big ticket concerts (just over 19,000, larger than Edmonton’s Rexall Place), and is smack dab in the middle of the city. So what’s the deal?
In a recent address to the Chamber of Commerce, Calgary Flames’ President of Operations Brian Burke stated that the building doesn’t hold up to the same architectural standards in comparisons to stadiums in other cities.
“The weight load that the roof will bear is tiny, so a lot of the big stage acts won’t come here,” Burke says.
“It’s not just what a hockey team gets and what it adds for hockey. It’s what it adds to a downtown core. And we need a new building in Calgary. A lot of bands don’t play at the Saddledome because the building is antiquated.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi recently met with Flames president Ken King about a new stadium, but says the city will not help with funding.
“It can’t be public dollars to subsidize private benefit” says Nenshi. “As much as we’d love to have Madonna here, I don’t think that you could convince most people that it’s a good use of public money to subsidize Madonna.”
The Saddledome is set to celebrate its 32nd birthday this year and, unlike a fine wine or Ben Affleck, it’s getting worse with age.