The Saddledome is one of the structures that just screams out Calgary when you see it. It's a hockey rink / various other events venues, that is quite unique in its design. You see, it's got a (semi?) circular roof, that curves down in the middle, to make it look like a Saddle when viewed from the side. This is just perfect for Calgary, since we are most well known for our annual "Let's Dress Up Like Cowboys and Pretend We Like Country Music For 10 Days Festival" aka the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, aka the Calgary Stampede.
Because of this, and the fact it looks pretty good, it, along with the Calgary Tower which is usually seen on the background, are the things most likely to make it onto Postcards from Calgary.
wertperch says re Saddledome: I found a great shot of it at http://www.discoveralberta.com/PhotoGallery/Panoramas-MovingPhotos/10-2448.html
The actual name at the moment is the Pengrowth Saddledome. I however, am going to node it here, because the name seems to change on a fairly regular basic. It started out when it was built in 1983 as the Olympic Saddledome.
This was of course because part of the reason that it was built was for the 1988 Winter Olympics that were hosted in Calgary. The other main reason was so that the Calgary Flames, who moved to the city in 1980, badly needed a better place to play. In the old place, the Stampede Corral, every game was filled to capacity. But that was still only 7,424 people.
And so, the Saddledome was drawn up and built. It cost $176 million, most of which I believe was supplied by the City of Calgary, the Province of Alberta, and the Calgary Olympic Development Association.
The Saddledome opened its doors in October of 1983, with the Calgary Flames losing their first game against the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. The new arena could pack in about 13,000 people. I'd say that's a nice improvement on the corral.
Around '87-'88 was probably when I first went to the Saddledome, to see the Flames, with Lanny McDonald, play. I was about 7 at the time.
1988 rolled around, and with it came the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. Yay! The Saddledome hosted the Ice Hockey and Figure Skating events. And life was good.
1989 rolled around, and the Flames won Lord Stanley's Cup. And life was good.
In 1995, the Olympic Saddledome underwent some renovations, upping it's capacity to 17,139, and adding some more box seats and concourse space. It also got a new name, from that point onward being known as the Corporate Whore Saddledome.
Oh wait, silly me. That's the Canadian Airlines Saddledome.
They also installed about 6k acoustic ceiling tiles, which made it a better place to hold concerts. It also made it a worse place to play hockey, since it dampened crowd noise from an already fairly quiet crowd, but that's beside the point.
To unveil the new renovations they had a concert by Reba McEntire. Ugh.
Life wasn't as good. And of course, meanwhile, attendance at Flames Games has been stedily dropping as the team keeps on doing worse and worse every year. Oh well.
At least we've got our Western Hockey League team, the Hitmen. They keep doing fairly well, and they won the championship back in 1999.
The main reason I'd like to go to the Saddledome is for concerts. I've seen KISS there, I almost saw AC/DC there (that's a story for another node), and on August 28, 2002, the day before my birthday, Bob Dylan is playing there. That would be cool. *Hint Hint*
Or there's also the Calgary Roughnecks, which is our professional lacrosse team. I've got friends who have season tickets. It's fun as hell.
Oh yeah. Somewhere along the way, Canadian Airlines went out of business. A shame. The Dome needed a new sponsor. Pengrowth stepped up to the plate. They're a Oil and Gas Energy Trust company.
Well, this *IS* Calgary, you can't expect something like this to not have an oil company's fingers in it somewhere.
To get there, hop on the C-Train (Train 201) and get off at the Victoria Park/Stampede stop. It's on the Stampede Grounds. Yes, you could drive, but parking sucks. Trust me.
Update: What with the Calgary Flames doing extremely well last year, I have a feeling the Saddledome will be a lot more packed... once the NHL strike is over.