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America to be built without revenue-generating luxury suites, which led Fletcher to describe the facility as being “out-of-date when it opened”.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.

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