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  • Friday, June 30, 2000

    That's the ticket!

    By ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

     Anaheim has The Pond, Pittsburgh has the Igloo and Vancouver has The Garage.

     Now Calgary has The Pen.

     The Pengrowth Saddledome.

     Kinda rolls off the tongue like, well, like any obscure name called out at the NBA Draft.

     Truth be told, the masses will continue to call it what it has always been -- The 'Dome.

     However, after dropping a large chunk of change for naming rights, you can bet the boys over at Pengrowth Management Ltd. will do their best to change that by plastering their logo everyplace imaginable.

     "Well, I have a tattoo ..." deadpanned Flames prez Ron Bremner, motioning towards his backside when asked what sort of signage the deal entailed.

     "Whether the roof will have Pengrowth on it and other details have yet to be finalized. But suffice it to say you won't be able to come into the building without knowing Pengrowth is the building sponsor."

     On the tail end of an 11-week Flames Forever campaign that wraps up with today's 1 p.m. press conference, yesterday's announcement was refreshingly upbeat.

     Purchasing 200 tickets as part of the agreement, Pengrowth officially put the Flames over the 14,000-season ticket plateau, satisfying the first of four conditions ownership deemed necessary to prevent the team from being sold. Although the second condition -- increased support from current partners -- has also been met, Bremner refused to concede the team had been saved just yet.

     Confirming the club will now qualify for the league's currency assistance plan with a season-ticket base that ranks top ten in the NHL, he was also non-commital when asked if Harvey the Hound could now climb down from his lofty perch atop Cowboys.

     "I phoned Harvey about 20 minutes ago and after spending two days at Cowboys, he said it depends on who comes up to get him," laughed Bremner.

     "There will be an announcement (today) and I don't want to pre-empt that particular announcement.

     "Ownership will meet (this morning) to determine how they feel about the other two challenges (which include negotiating a better building lease and reaping revenues from the value of team logos and copyright trademarks with respect to lottery funds.)"

     Refusing to disclose the duration or price tag of the naming rights, which previously cost Canadian Airlines a reported $1 million a year, co-owner Harley Hotchkiss suggested, "it more than replaces the loss of Canadian Airlines," with the involvement of a local company, to boot.

     "I really can't take credit for the idea, it was my fiancee's idea," said Pengrowth president and CEO Jim Kinnear, whose oil and gas specialty fund management company is looking to promote itself internationally with the move.

     "It started out as a joke because not many people know about Pengrowth outside Calgary," confirmed his bride-to-be Bridgette Eansor.

     "I was driving in on MacLeod Trail one day and after the Air Canada/Canadian deal was struck, I said there will obviously be a name change soon so why can't it be Pengrowth?

     "We also fly quite often and when we did, we just decided it would look pretty good to put Pengrowth on the top."

     A longtime Flames supporter, Kinnear got the ball rolling when he tried unsuccessfully to lease a private suite last year and joked with Bremner, "if I bought the building would I have a better chance of getting a suite?"

     Bremner said several other companies expressed interest in the naming rights, but credited Kinnear with coming in with a solid offer at a perfect time.

     With city council expected to rubber stamp the name change and subsequently re-examine the Flames lease through the Saddledome Foundation, it's clear the NHL club has all but staved off being sold for at least another year or two.

     They'll make it official this afternoon at The Pen.

    CALGARY FLAMES



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