Ice Hockey Wiki

This article is on the arena located in Calgary, Alberta, which is home to the Calgary Flames. For the arena located in Toronto which is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and was formerly known as the Air Canada Centre please see Scotiabank Arena. For the arena located in Halifax, Nova Scotia; please see Scotiabank Centre.

Scotiabank Saddledome
Pengrowth Saddledome logo.png
The Saddledome and Calgary skyline
Location 555 Saddledome Rise SE, Calgary, Alberta T2G 2W1
Opened 1983
Owner City of Calgary
Construction cost $100,000,000
Architect Graham McCourt Architects
Former names Olympic Saddledome (1983–1996)
Canadian Airlines Saddledome (1996–2000)
Pengrowth Saddledome (2000-2010)
Tenants Calgary Flames (NHL) (1983-present)
Calgary Hitmen (WHL) (1995-present)
Calgary Roughnecks (National Lacrosse League) (2001-present)
Calgary Rad'z (Roller Hockey International) (1993)
Calgary Outlaws (National Basketball League (Canada)) (1994)
Capacity Ice hockey: 19,289

The Scotiabank Saddledome (formerly known as the Olympic Saddledome, Canadian Airlines Saddledome and Pengrowth Saddledome) is the main indoor arena facility in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and is situated on the east end of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede grounds in downtown Calgary. It is often referred to simply as the Saddledome or even the 'Dome. The Saddledome was built in 1983 to host the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League (NHL) and to serve as the primary facility for ice hockey and figure skating at the 1988 Olympics.

The first event in the Saddledome was a Battle of Alberta match-up between the Flames and the Edmonton Oilers on October 15, 1983. The 'Dome also serves as the home arena for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League and the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League.

The Saddledome was built to have a maximum capacity of approximately 20,000 fans. Major renovations in 1994–1995 reduced capacity to its current configuration of 19,289 for hockey. The facility is currently managed by the Calgary Flames Hockey Club, who have leased the 'Dome until 2014. The future of the building is currently under debate, as the Flames have begun plans to build a new arena, at which point it is expected the Saddledome will be demolished.

Planning and design

Calgary had been served for 30 years by the Stampede Corral when the Calgary Flames arrived in 1980. With a total capacity of 8,700, the Corral was the largest arena in Canada west of Toronto in 1950, however by the 1970s had fallen below major league standards. The Corral was deemed insufficient for the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1977, leading the World Hockey Association's Calgary Cowboys to fold rather than hope to be a team selected to merge with the NHL.

Calgary's bid to host the 1988 Winter Olympics, coupled with the arrival of the Flames, drove the need to build a new arena. City Council debated the merits of several locations for the city's new "Olympic Coliseum", two of which had the most support: in the "Revelstoke Acres" area of the Victoria Park neighbourhood, on the Calgary Stampede grounds—both sites on the east end of downtown. Two other sites, one on the west end of downtown, and a late bid by several businessmen pushing to build the arena in the northern suburb of Airdrie, were also considered.

The Saddledome's location within Stampede Park, as seen from the Calgary Tower.

The Victoria Park Community Association fought the bid to build the arena in their neighborhood, threatening to oppose the city's Olympic bid if necessary. City council voted on March 3, 1981 to build the proposed 20,000 seat arena on the Stampede grounds, immediately east of the Corral, and south of Victoria Park.

The Saddledome was designed by Graham McCourt Architects, and while they set out to design a unique building, the idea of a western theme never occurred to Barry Graham or his team. The roof of the building was designed to be a reverse hyperbolic paraboloid, allowing for a pillar free view from all seats, and reducing the interior volume by up to one-third when compared to traditional arenas. When the design was unveiled, the roof was immediately referred to as being saddle-shaped. Of 1,270 entries submitted in a contest to name the arena, 735 involved the word Saddle. The winning name in the contest, Olympic Saddledome, was drawn from a hat filled with several similar saddle-themed names.


  • Architect: Graham McCourt Architects (Now GEC Architecture)
  • Structural Engineer: Jan Bobrowski and Partners
  • Contractor: CANA
  • Cost: $100,000,000
  • Title: Saddledome

The distinctive saddle-shaped roof, giving the structure its name, is an inverted hyperbolic paraboloid. This original design is believed to still hold the world record for the longest spanning hyperbolic paraboloid concrete shell in the world. Projected onto the x-z plane the Saddledome produces a circle with a radius of 67.7m. Constructed using pre-cast concrete panels suspended by post-tension cables, the roof has an unobstructed 122 metre span covering 12,000 m², but is only 60 centimetres thick.

As a practical matter, such a design causes there to be many more rows of seating near "center ice" than behind the goals.


The Saddledome and Calgary skyline at night

Inside the Saddledome during a Calgary Roughnecks game

When it opened on October 15, 1983, the Olympic Saddledome served to boost the morale of a city that was experiencing a significant downturn as a result of the federal government's National Energy Policy. During the first game, against the Edmonton Oilers, the first thing the fans booed was the standard of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The Oilers defeated the Flames in the opening game 4–3 in front of a sold out crowd of nearly 17,000 fans.

The Saddledome was the first major arena in North America capable of hosting ice hockey matches on the international standard size ice sheet. The building underwent a major renovation in the summer of 1995, during which time luxury boxes were added and about a thousand seats were removed in the lower bowl on the north, west, and south sides. This forced the Hitmen to play some early-season home games at the nearby Stampede Corral and the Flames to open the season with an extended road trip. The building was renamed the Canadian Airlines Saddledome when the Calgary-based airline became the building's sponsor in July 1996. This was controversial among many Calgarians who opposed the facility losing the "Olympic" name, and who were also opposed to the decision to cover the Dome's massive roof with the Canadian Airlines logo. In 2000, another company, Pengrowth Energy Trust, took over sponsorship of the complex when Canadian Airlines was acquired by Air Canada and the facility was renamed the Pengrowth Saddledome. Unlike Canadian Airlines, Pengrowth chose not to put its logo on the roof of the facility.

The Saddledome hosts the championship game of the Mac's World Invitational AAA Midget Hockey Championship every year on January 1.

On October 8, 2010, the NHL announced that the Pengrowth Saddledome has been renamed to the Scotiabank Saddledome.


There has been much discussion about the future of the Saddledome as the Flames have begun talking about building a new arena. Flames' president and chief executive officer Ken King said in 2008 that plans for a new arena are "five to eight years away" fueling speculation that the team hopes to have a new arena built for when the Flames' lease with the Saddledome expires in 2014. King stated that the Flames have concepts and designs for a new building, but are not ready to release them.

It is expected that any new arena would also be located on the Stampede Grounds, however Calgary Stampede officials have expressed doubt that a new arena will be built in the near future, stating that no deal is imminent. Alderman John Mar stated that he did not expect the city would support a new arena with taxpayer money. There has also been plans to put a 200 feet tall cowboy onto the roof.

The ownership of the Flames also owns the CFL's Calgary Stampeders who play at McMahon Stadium which was built in 1960, as well as the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL.  A new proposal in April of 2015 indicated the proposal for a $500 million Canadian complex which would include a new home for all three organizations plus a community fieldhouse for amateur sports (which the city of Calgary was already projecting to pay $202 million for could also be included in the proposal. The inclusion of the fieldhouse could also lead the city to supporting the project as the facility was on top of Calgary Mayor Nasheed Nenshi's city project wishlist.  This would make aquisition of the land and some financial support easier to obtain. Some other funding could come from the provincial and federal governments.[1]

In September of 2017 the Flames organization had proposed to pay for $275 million of an estimated $500 (Flames estimate) to $555 (city of Calgary estimate) million cost for a new arena.  But due to differences in some of the financing the team has indicated that it is no longer interested in pursuing a new arena in Calgary [2]

On May 28, 2018 the Calgary City Council voted to for an event assessment committee to negotiate a potential deal for a new arena.  Some new people on the city's side will be involved in the dicussions with the Calgary Sports and Entertaiment Corp.  The arena is now the second oldest in the league, opening in 1983. Only Madison Square Garden is older having opened in 1968, however MSG has undergone extensive renovations between 2011 and 2013; and is much more modern in terms of amenities as opposed to the  Saddledome.[3]

Panoramic view of the interior of the Saddledome, and the "C of Red", prior to a Calgary Flames playoff game


Preceded by
Stampede Corral
Home of the
Calgary Flames

1983 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Brendan Byrne Arena
Host of NHL All-Star Game
Succeeded by
Hartford Civic Center
Preceded by
Olympic Hall Zetra
Host of the
Olympic ice hockey tournament

with Stampede Corral and Father David Bauer Olympic Arena

Succeeded by
Méribel Ice Palace

External links