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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:15 am
 


Arena project dead? Katz letter to council shows how precarious deal has become

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EDMONTON - The downtown arena deal is hanging by a thread after Oilers owner Daryl Katz refused a request Tuesday to appear in person and tell city councillors what he needs to complete the project.

“I’m not sure where we go from here,” Mayor Stephen Mandel said. “It’s frustrating. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want to come to city council to talk about whatever the issues are.

“Negotiations are not in good shape.”

Although Mandel has insisted someone from the Katz Group outline the company’s concerns at Wednesday’s council meeting, which he called a “drop dead date,” Katz sent the mayor a letter that said the two sides are too far apart for that to be worthwhile.

“Perhaps with more time and political leadership, this project can still be saved,” Katz wrote in the letter he released to the media.

“On substance, as you know, there are 15 open items in our negotiations. On process, as we previously advised, we will not make a proposal to city council that does not have administration’s support.”

Katz said while he thought the two sides were making considerable progress in their talks, they were actually going backward, and there isn’t even agreement on basic assumptions about arena finances.

“I fear the city has approached this negotiation based on narrow political considerations rather than a genuine desire to strike a deal that is fair and makes economic sense for both sides.”

Arena cost projections are higher and revenues lower than expected when a framework agreement was passed last October, said Katz, who urged Mandel to accept NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s offer to help forge a deal.

Mandel, who isn’t sure what assistance Bettmann can provide, said he was disappointed by the letter.

“I don’t know whether it’s posturing or not. Many of the things in the letter I don’t agree with. Many of the demands that the Katz Group has put on the city I wouldn’t agree with either.”

In a closed-door September meeting, councillors rejected the company’s request for more public money, which apparently included an ongoing $6-million subsidy and talk of tax breaks.

City officials still intend to provide councillors with an update on the arena issue, but Coun. Dave Loken said there’s no appetite among his colleagues for more concessions to Katz.

“I’m not going to call (the arena) dead right now. I really want to hear tomorrow what our administration has to say,” Loken said.

“The majority of us are supporting the October framework. To stray from that, getting into concessions, hundreds of millions more on this deal, just isn’t in the cards.”

Coun. Amarjeet Sohi said it’s time to explore other options, which could include having the city build an arena without Katz’s involvement.

The team owner should have understood the economics of the project last fall when both sides accepted the 17-part framework, Sohi said.

“If somebody is walking away from the deal, it’s something that (is) not appreciated.”

The city has put up $30 million to design the oil-drop shaped structure, intended to be the centre of an office and entertainment district expected to rejuvenate downtown along 104th Avenue.

Construction of the arena, now estimated to cost $475 million, is set to go out for bids early next year once the design is mostly finished, although either group can pull out in advance if the estimated price is too high.

The city will pay about $70 million for land, part of the cost of the Winter Garden walkway over 104th Avenue and an LRT link and pedestrian corridor as part of the project.

Coun. Linda Sloan called for an end to “gamesmanship” on both sides.

Instead, she wants to remove the administration from the equation and allow council to take over direct negotiations.

“I don’t think at this time we will be able to conclude the deal with the administration and the Katz Group negotiating,” she said.

“We know the market best, we know the city best, and if it’s going to go anywhere that’s where it needs to go.”


http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business ... story.html


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:18 am
 


I don't know about Katz. He said some nasty things in that letter, but then again I can see him not wanting to open his negotiations to City Council and to the press before they are finalized.

But I too thought there was a deal and they were just dotting the I's and crossing the T's. Someone should have said something sooner.

I wonder with the NHL strike (divvying up billions) and the arena ($500m pricetag) if they remember that these funds come directly from my wallet?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:50 pm
 


The mayor got a hard-on to use the arena to revitalize some run down part of town. I've never liked the idea of building large attractions at hard to get to locations, like the downtown. The city has a very nice ring road system, and it's passenger rail service is within spitting distance of a few points of that ring road.

If you just must have a new arena (a point that hasn't been explained to me why) build it on the open land on the edge of the city by the ring road.

Trying to use a half billion dollar project for social engineering is not an optimal move in my mind.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:54 pm
 


The city should keep the money and use it for more important things, and Katz should just renovate Rexall Place for the time being, and worry about a new arena when it's more economically feasible.

-J.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:02 pm
 


Xort wrote:
The city has a very nice ring road system, and it's passenger rail service is within spitting distance of a few points of that ring road.


Name one.

The LRT is pretty much as far away from the Anthony Henday as you get in Edmonton, without being in Sherwood park or St. Albert. It was built in 1978, and thanks to many Liberal government, didn't get one single inch of expansion till 1981, and then nothing till 2008.

This is as close as the LRT gets to the Anhoun Henday:

Attachment:
Century LRT.jpg
Century LRT.jpg [ 136.8 KiB | Viewed 346 times ]


Xort wrote:
If you just must have a new arena (a point that hasn't been explained to me why) build it on the open land on the edge of the city by the ring road.

Trying to use a half billion dollar project for social engineering is not an optimal move in my mind.


If you were an Edmonton taxpayer, you'd know why we need one. And the latest economic analysis by a U of A student predicts 2 Billion in tax revenue from that $500m investment. Pretty decent money.


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