It announced on November 9, 1971, that it was expanding to Long Island and Atlanta. The Atlanta franchise was awarded to Tom Cousins, who also owned the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, and would play out of the Omni Coliseum. The team cost $6 million.
As the team stagnated on the ice, the Flames struggled at the gate. They peaked at an average of 14,161 fans per game in their second season, 1973 – 1974, but fell to 12,258 three years later and then 10,500 in 1977 – 1978. Concerns that low attendance could result in the relocation of the team surfaced by 1976, prompting politicians and the players themselves to purchase tickets in a bid to stabilize the franchise. The Flames attempted to boost attendance in 1980 by signing Jim Craig, goaltender of the American Olympic team that had won the Olympic gold medal following its “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviet Union. It was not successful as attendance fell to an average of 10,024. Adding to the Flames’ financial woes was the fact that the Omni Coliseum was one of the last major arenas in North America to be built without revenue-generating luxury suites, which led Fletcher to describe the facility as being “out-of-date when it opened”.
Cousins announced that he was seeking to sell the club following the Flames’ exit from the playoffs; Their final game, a 5–2 loss, was played in Atlanta on April 12, 1980. He claimed to have suffered significant financial losses on the team while low viewership hampered his ability to sign a television contract. The Flames, estimated to have lost $12 million in its eight years, had been rumored for months to be moving to Calgary, though Dallas and Houston were also mentioned as possible destinations.
The Atlanta Flames were a professional ice hockey team based in Atlanta, Georgia from 1972 until 1980. They played out of the Omni Coliseum and were members of the West and later Patrick divisions of the National Hockey League (NHL). Along with the New York Islanders, the Flames were created in 1971 as part of the NHL’s conflict with the rival World Hockey Association (WHA). The team enjoyed modest success on the ice, qualifying for the post-season in six of its eight seasons, but failed to win a playoff series and won only two post-season games total. The franchise struggled to draw fans, and after averaging only 10,000 per game in 1979 – 1980, was sold and relocated to Alberta to become the Calgary Flames.
Atlanta – Calgary
1972 – Present / National Hockey League
1980 – Present / Calgary Flames
1972 – 1980 / Atlanta Flames
Flames – The franchise held a name-the-team contest, but according to Stephen Laroche’s book “Changing the Game: A History of NHL Expansion,” Flames was on 198 of 10,000 ballots. Tom Cousins, the franchise’s first owner, chose it to reference the burning of Atlanta by General William T. Sherman during the Civil War.
Stanley Cup 0
1983 – Present / Scotiabank Saddledome
1980 – 1983 / Stampede Corral
1972 – 1980 / Omni Coliseum
1980 – Present / Calgary Flames Limited Partnership
1972 – 1980 / Tom Cousins
9 Lanny McDonald
30 Mike Vernon
99 Wayne Gretzky
*Blue is this team’s history