• Search by team or stadium name:

Buy the latest issue of Stadium Journey Magazine - Subscribe Today!

Stadium Journey Sports Magazine Subscriptions

Scotiabank Saddledome

Calgary, AB

Home of the Calgary Flames

3.7

2.7

Scotiabank Saddledome (map it)
555 Saddledome Rise SE
Calgary, AB T2G 2W1
Canada


Calgary Flames website

Scotiabank Saddledome website

Year Opened: 1983

Capacity: 19,289

There are no tickets available at this time.

Reviews

Local Information

Share
this

The Saddledome's Main Event

The Atlanta Flames relocated to Calgary in 1980 and immediately enjoyed their best season in franchise history, battling their way to the semi-finals in the playoffs. That team played in the Stampede Corral and packed the 6,500 seat stadium all season long, in spite of having the most expensive tickets in the NHL, at a whopping $25 each.

The Flames would spend their first three years playing in the Corral before moving to their brand new home, built only a few metres to the east, the Olympic Saddledome. The Saddledome was also constructed in anticipation of the 1988 Winter Olympics and was able to pack in almost three times as many fans as the old Corral.

Over the years, the Saddledome has seen a few renovations, increased seating capacity and a couple name changes. It is now known as the Scotiabank Saddledome.

At over 30 years of age, the Saddledome is starting to show some signs of age, but the renovations have helped the ‘Dome age gracefully.

3.7

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    5

There is an excellent variety of choices around the Scotiabank Saddledome for Flames games.

The main concession stands, each named for the section in front of which they are situated, have all the garden variety options we expect at an arena. Hot dogs, nachos, chips, pop and Bud on tap can all be found at these locations.

There are also numerous specialty stands throughout the concourse. The Dog House serves, you guessed it, gourmet hot dogs. My Chicago-Style dog was very tasty. There's the Flame Broiled BBQ for fancier burgers. At the Skyline Deli you can pick up deli-style sandwiches.

There are a number of specialty stops for adult beverages located around the concourse as well, so if Bud isn't your thing, you still have plenty of places to find something else.

You'll also find Pizza 73, Jugo Juice and The Good Earth Coffeehouse among the franchise locations.

Beyond all that, there are several bars and restaurants around the Saddledome. The Budweiser King Club, Dutton's Lounge, the Saddledome Restaurant, the Olympic Lounge and the Avison Young Club are all situated within the building, providing fans with a number of different dining options and experiences.

The selection at the Saddledome has actually shrunk recently, eliminating some of the more exotic stands and focusing on the more popular options, but the variety here is still easily the best of any stadium you'll find in Alberta.

Atmosphere    4

The Calgary Flames have not been terribly competitive in a number of years and have missed the playoffs several years in a row. The fans, consequently, haven't had a lot to cheer about for quite some time.

The good news is that the current rebuilding effort has resulted in a young, hungry team that plays an entertaining brand of hockey, even if wins have not come as frequently as some might like.

Nevertheless, the Scotiabank Saddledome continues to draw good crowds night after night, so there is still considerable energy in the stands. Calgary sports fans are traditionally pretty docile, but they've become more comfortable with cheering and booing where appropriate over the years, so the place generally has a pretty fun, exciting feel to it on most nights, even if the hometown squad is struggling.

Of note from the last game I attended, in which the Flames blew out the Anaheim Ducks, the loudest the crowd got was during a mid-game fight and not for any of the many, many goals. Personally, I consider this a positive, as a fan of old-school, rough-and-tumble hockey. Obviously, the fans still appreciate a good rumble.

Neighborhood    3

The annual Calgary Stampede has been going on for more than a century now. It is held on a large plot of land just southeast of Calgary's downtown core. The Saddledome is located on the northeast corner of the Stampede Grounds.

The immediate vicinity, known as Victoria Park, isn't the best neighborhood in town. However, there has been a substantial amount of gentrification in the area in the last few years and things are starting to perk up, with huge condo complexes being built to the immediate north of the Stampede Grounds as well as to the west. And most of those complexes have some kind of restaurant or bar on the ground floor.

If the community continues to gentrify at its current rate, the neighborhood score could improve in pretty short order.

Loungeburger, located in one of the condo buildings to the west, right across Macleod Trail from the Stampede Grounds, is a quality purveyor of gourmet burgers. They aren't cheap, but they are usually tasty. I recommend the Black and Blu Burger.

On the northwest corner of the Stampede Grounds, you'll find Cowboys Casino, which contains several restaurants, including Melrose Cafe. Try the Twisted Mac & Cheese for some comfort food kicked up a notch.

Just a few blocks due west of the Stampede Grounds on 17th Ave you'll find a string of clubs and bars that came to be known as "The Red Mile" during the Flames' playoff run in 2004. There you'll find the Ship and Anchor Pub, which has been named Best Neighbourhood Pub in Calgary by local publication "Fast Forward Weekly" on numerous occasions.

Fans    4

Calgary Flames fans are a dedicated bunch who show up and cheer their team whether they're winning or not. The Flames have sold out the Saddledome every single night since at least the 2005-2006 season, in spite of not making the postseason since 2008-2009. On the other hand, although the game I attended had an announced sellout crowd, there were hundreds of empty seats in the stands.

There typically are quite a significant number of fans for the opposing team (whoever that might be on any given night) proudly showing up in their team's colours and cheering their faces off. But overall that makes for a fair bit of engagement in the game, and good fan noise.

Access    3

Calgary has the second-highest downtown parking rates in North America, behind only New York City. Parking on the grounds will cost you $15 and, depending on what other events are going on around the area, might fill up quickly.

To make matters worse, as the Stampede continues to expand, new buildings chew up the precious parking spots. Signage in the area seems to indicate that all the parking to the north of the Saddledome is earmarked for new Stampede buildings in the coming years, meaning a steadily shrinking availability of parking.

There are also choices off-site for slightly less expensive parking. A few local residents rent out yard space for parking and there is some metered street parking in the vicinity for people willing to do a little walking.

The good news is that being centrally located means the Saddledome is fairly easy to get to from all directions. The bad news is that getting away after the game can be frustratingly slow at times. My last experience wasn't so bad, however many fans began streaming out of the 'Dome by the middle of the third period when it became clear the Flames were going to win easily.

Another option is taking Calgary's Light Rail Transit system to the game. The "C-Train" has two stops on the west side of the Stampede Grounds, one to the south and one on the north end which has a connecting walkway that will take you directly to the Saddledome.

The LRT tracks cover a significant amount of the city running north and south, and the newly open West Leg has made traveling east-to-west much better as well. So it can be a more convenient option for fans not wanting the hassle of driving downtown, although the trains can get very crowded after events.

City Transit is continuing C-Train expansion, with plans to go to four-car trains in just a couple years. An adult fare for Calgary Transit is $3.00, youths are $2.00.

Return on Investment    3

Prices for Flames tickets range from $40.50 per seat up in the nose bleeds up to $265.50 per seat in the Avison Young section of the lower bowl. With an average price of $262.10 for the 2012-2013 season, that made the Saddledome the sixth most expensive venue in the NHL according to Forbes.

Clearly, if the Flames are able to sell the place out every night, the demand is there, even if they're in the top third for ticket prices. This is a hockey-first market where fans eat, sleep and breathe the sport and will fork out big bucks to pay for the privilege of attending a game. From my perspective, however, paying top dollar to see a team that hasn't made the playoffs in years seems a little steep; for the price of an average Flames ticket, I can go see the WHL's Calgary Hitmen play eight or nine games in the same venue. And make the playoffs more often than not. But maybe I'm just a cheapskate....

Extras    4

There are a number of added extras when you come see the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The walls of the building are lined with memorabilia, photos and trophies commemorating great teams and events from years past in the Calgary area. Wherever there is a space that doesn't have a concession stand in it, you can find a display.

There is an exhibit remembering the 1988 Winter Olympics, a wall dedicated to Calgary's hockey heritage, plaques for the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame, and so forth.

You'll also find a couple locations of Flames Fan Attic for all your souvenir needs.

Harvey The Hound keeps the kids amused in the stands during the game with his antics.

Looking up into the south rafters, you'll see the large row of banners earned by the Flames in their time in the NHL.

The music played during stoppages in the action on the ice is a nice combination of current hits, classic rock, some country and some good ol' fashioned stadium organ music which adds some nice flavour to the 'Dome's atmosphere.

All the usual giveaways and contests that you might expect at a pro hockey game are mixed into the program during stoppages in the action.

One other nice touch which I appreciate is that there are recycling bins located throughout the concourse so environmentally conscious fans can ensure their garbage doesn't just wind up in a landfill.

Final Thoughts

I have enjoyed some fantastic memories while attending Flames games over the years. Whether it was seeing the Flames pull off the dramatic overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks in Game Seven of the first round of the 1989 playoffs or hanging out with my friends in the nose bleed seats back when they used to play the Montreal Canadiens every New Year's Eve, it was always a great time. And although the Flames aren't quite the dynasty they used to be in the late 80s and early 90s, going to the Saddledome to take in a Flames game is still always a good time.

Streetview inside!

It is now possible to get Google Maps Streetview inside the Saddledome concourses and with views into the seating bowl - definitely give this a look to see exactly how the arena looks and feels.

by RobbieRaskin | Mar 13, 2014 07:55 PM

You must be a Stadium Journey member to post a comment.

Already a member? Sign in or Create a Stadium Journey Account

-- OR --

Crowd Reviews

Back in the Saddle

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 5

One of the oldest and by far the most unique buildings in the NHL, construction on the then Olympic Saddledome, designed to reflect Calgary's Western heritage, began in 1980 with the arrival of the Calgary Flames and the city's victorious bid for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. The Flames moved into their new digs in 1983 after spending the first few years of their existence across the parking lot, under the roof of the Stampede Corral. The original seating capacity was 16,605 until 2,600 additional seats were added to accommodate the Olympic crowds, and the building reached its peak capacity at 20,016 patrons, making it the largest arena ever to host the Winter Olympic Games.

Major renovations totaling approximately $37 million in the mid-nineties and amidst threats of team relocation saw the Saddledome receive 41 luxury boxes, a club section that seats over 1700 people, and a new restaurant, amongst other upgrades. The Scotiabank Saddledome became one of the most well known and easily recognizable NHL arenas during the Flames' 2004 run to the Stanley Cup Finals, and despite even more recent additions like the high-definition score board raised above centre ice, talk of a new arena up North (Edmonton) has spurred similar discussions here in Calgary. Construction on a new building to house the Flames, along with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen and the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League, will likely begin when the Flames' current lease expires in 2014.

Hayley Mutch is the managing editor at Matchsticks and Gasoline.

Flames in the Saddle

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 5

The Atlanta Flames relocated to Calgary in 1980 and immediately enjoyed their best season in franchise history, battling their way to the semi-finals in the playoffs. That team played in the Stampede Corral and packed the 6,500 seat stadium all season long, in spite of having the most expensive tickets in the NHL, at a whopping $25 each.

The Flames would spend their first three years playing in the Corral before moving to their brand new home, built only a few metres to the east, the Olympic Saddledome. The Saddledome was also constructed in anticipation of the 1988 Winter Olympics and was able to pack in almost three times as many fans as the old Corral.

Over the years, the Saddledome has seen a few renovations and a couple name changes and is now known as the Scotiabank Saddledome.

After three decades, the Saddledome is starting to show some signs of age, but the renovations have helped the ‘Dome age gracefully.

Share your thoughts about Scotiabank Saddledome

Local Food & Drink

Loungeburger  (map it!)

1331 Macleod Trail S

Calgary, AB T2G 0K3

(403) 250-2747

http://www.loungeburger.com/

Melrose Cafe & Bar  (map it!)

730 17 Ave SW

Calgary, AB T2S0B7

(403) 228-3566

http://www.melrosecalgary.com/

Ship and Anchor Pub  (map it!)

534 17 Ave SW

Calgary, AB T2S 0B1

(403) 245-3333

http://www.shipandanchor.com/

Local Entertainment

Lodging

w

© 2014 Stadium Journey