Home Improvement - Part 1 - Options

The Mustangs have narrowed down a few ideas for their new home, set to open in the 2024-2025 season.
by Matt Burch | April 25, 2024, 3:07 AM ET

It has been almost twenty years since the Calgary Mustangs entered the SICHL. After years of ups and (many) downs, one thing has been constant: their home. Their first and only arena has been the Bob Johnson Memorial Arena, named for the late great hockey coach. Located near the riverfront of the Bow River, the facility has been a staple of Calgary's skyline since its inception. However, after time and a few renovations to squeeze some life out of the structure, the time has come to say goodbye to the old house.

With help from the good city of Calgary, some generous donors, and piles of cash from the owner, there is an opportunity to build a new state-of-the-art home for the Mustangs, as well as provide a venue to attract various popular, entertaining acts from around the globe.

Decisions need to be made between now and the beginning of the 2024–2025 season before the Mustangs put skate to ice in the new arena. Where will it be built? What will it look like? And, more importantly, what will it be called?

After countless design submissions from architects, engineers, fans, artists, and meddlesome billionaires, the list of potential landing spots for the Calgary Mustangs has been narrowed down to six. Here are the selections, as well as a summary of the discussion we had for each option with the selection committee:


Chinook Ice Palace

Details: Seats 26,000, located four blocks from Bob Johnson Memorial Arena, maintaining the classic configuration that has come to define the old arena. The general design is one central arena for events such as Mustang home games, with two smaller rinks that flank the sides of the arena, which will make the location ideal for hosting ice hockey tournaments or for training purposes.

Mayor's Advisor: I like how versatile the facility is for our city, and the job creation looks phenomenal, according to the polls.

GM/Owner Matt Burch: It's definitely a bold statement as far as complexes go. I'm not sure I've ever seen a professional arena with other rinks. I'm worried it might be too busy.

Bret Hart: This is a fantastic design. Wrestlemania here will be amazing!

Shady Billionaire: I see green. Lots of green.

Elisha Cuthbert: Why am I here?


Pioneer Park Pavilion

Details: Seats 26,000, located in Pioneer Park, requiring much demolition. This design funnels attendees to a single large entrance, which functions as a pseudo-museum that reflects the heritage of the people as well as the Calgary Mustangs' hockey team.

Shady Billionaire: I see less green, though displacing a community for a hockey arena sounds enticing.

Mayor's Advisor: I love the focus on Calgary right at the outset, though I fear our constituents might be dissatisfied with the loss of the beloved park as well as their homes. I'll have to advise against this choice!

Bret Hart: I love Calgary. All things must be about Calgary.

Elisha Cuthbert: ?????

GM/Owner Matt Burch: ...let's move on.


Calgary Cattle Castle

Details: Seats 26,000 (of course), located west of GMC Stadium along the Elbow River. This facility goes all-in on the cowboy, cattle, and western motif. The entrances are arches shaped like horseshoes, employees will dress in western attire, the food will be decidedly western, and there will be a statue of the GM/Owner to greet the masses on a beautiful steed. To top it off, there's a variation of this design that gives the entire exterior of the arena the appearance of a cowboy hat.

GM/Owner Matt Burch: I'm sorry, what? I'm on...a horse?

Mayor's Advisor: I'm sure the voters who love westerns will really go for this, but will we win any swing votes?

Shady Billionaire: Are we sure the market for westerns isn't saturated already?

Bret Hart: I'm thinking about making a comeback.

Elisha Cuthbert: I was invited here because Dion couldn't make it; now I'm starting to think he punked me.


Glenbow Garden Arena aka Glenbow Gardens

Details: Seats 26,000, located at Fort Calgary, where the Bow and Elbow Rivers meet, and derives its name from the museum, as well as being next to the Bow River, which gives the use of the portmanteau some natural logic. This complex is all about beautification, as it takes the “gardens” portion of the name very seriously. Plus, all legendary sports teams seem to have “gardens” in their venue's name. Maybe this starts the new era off on a good foot?

Mayor's Advisor: This might be my favorite. So many voters will pass by this beautiful structure and think, “Yes, my mayor helped build that,"  and vote accordingly.

Shady Billionaire: That's not the kind of green I like.

Elisha Cuthbert: I'll vote for this one if it gets me out of here sooner.

Bret Hart: I used to be called "Hitman." I wrestled Shawn Michaels, the Steiners, and Steve Austin. Now I'm looking at flowers surrounding a hockey arena. What happened?

GM/Owner Matt Burch: This is a gorgeous concept, and I love the alliteration. It's a definite maybe!


The Snowsphere

Details: Seats 26,000, nestled dead center among the skyscrapers of Calgary. This arena is all flash, with an exterior comprised of uncountable LCD screens to project images on the exterior of the building. This will be known as one of the wonders of the modern world when it is all said and done. Due to the shape of the building, the seating might be a little more vertical than most arenas, but the view will be spectacular no matter where you are in the facility. When dormant, the LCD screens will display white, making the building look like a smooth Epcot Center or a giant snowball.

GM/Owner Matt Burch: Well, this is an odd one. It definitely stands out from all the other choices, if not all the other arenas in the league.

Shady Billionaire: Now we're talking. This looks like it could draw tourism just by existing, driving revenue through the roof.

Mayor's Advisor: If only tourists could vote. I worry it might be an eyesore to those who live here, but maybe the increased flow of money will quell any fallout.

Bret Hart slicks his hair back: Put my face up on those screens.

Elisha Cuthbert: Seriously, is this like a timeshare situation?


Sulphur Mountain Lookout Lookout

Details: Seats 26,000, located behind the proposed 30-foot-high flood wall running from Mount Rundle to Mount Peechee, this scenic location will be a luxurious one-hour and ten-minute drive west of Calgary, although it might be one hour and thirty minutes once you get past the checkpoints. It might, in fact, be quicker to take a boat along the Bow River from Calgary to Duthil. Just make sure you don't show up unannounced! On the east side of the wall, the amenities will be plentiful: gardens, art, and western motifs, if that's what you like. Oh, and the hockey arena, where the Calgary-ish Horseponeys play. On the west side of the wall, there will of course be miles of barbed wire and occasional safety spikes to keep out the riff raff. Nestled in one of the nearby lakes will be a decommissioned battleship, repurposed to serve our customers as a hotel and five-star restaurant! Don't mind the staff dressed and acting like soldiers; they're just playing their part to give the full garrisoned immersion.

Bret Hart: HELL YEAH!

Shady Billionaire: Cha-ching! I might as well add arms dealer to my repertoire.

Mayor's Advisor: Nothing rallies voters like having something to channel their hostility! I think this could work!

GM/Owner Matt Burch: Why did we allow anonymous submissions?

Elisha Cuthbert: That's it; I'm moving to Quispamsis.


So, fellow Calgary fans, there you have it. Which proposal is your favorite? Stay tuned for the exciting next chapter, where the winning submission is chosen and construction can finally begin on the new home for our favorite horse-themed, Canadian-based hockey team!


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