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Saddledome Reconstruction: Preserving an Icon

As Calgarians helplessly watched the water rise on June 21, 2013, the city’s iconic sports arena, the Saddledome, became a symbol of how serious the situation had become. With both the Bow and Elbow River on its doorstep, the home to the NHL’s Calgary Flames sustained a massive amount of damage. The local news reported on which row of seats was underwater, as the total rose to eight. The dressing rooms, ice plant, resurfacing equipment and lower levels were all wiped out.

After pumping the water out of the arena, the Saddledome looked to our structural engineering team, led by Craig More, to assess the building for damage. With the NHL season less than three months away, Stantec’s structural review was critical in determining whether the arena could be repaired in time to host the opening game. It was the first step in an astounding rebuild effort that, according to director of building operations Robert Blanchard, required an estimated 650,000 man hours of work, compressing a six-month project into only two.

Less than three months after the waters receded, the Saddledome hosted the Eagles on September 11 and the opening pre-season game for the Calgary Flames on September 14.

Today, it’s business as usual at the Saddledome, with fans filling the 19,000 seats to cheer on their team, or see their favorite band take the stage. What they might not know, is our team continued working with arena’s staff to design flood prevention measures, like easily deployed floodwalls and permanent berms around low points to keep them cheering “come hell or high water.”

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