League commissioners demanding new homes for their teams shouldn’t be news at this point, and yet it is. And so, Canadian papers were all abuzz this weekend over NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s declaration that “it’s obviously essential that the [Edmonton] Oilers have a new arena. … There’s no question about it, they’re not going to stay in this building.”
“This is not comparable to what our teams typically play in, anymore,” Bettman said. “The revenue streams are not comparable to what goes on in new arenas.
“This building, by any standard, is antiquated and outdated. For a team to be competitive across the board, including its revenue streams, it needs to be in a competitive arena, and this one isn’t.”
Bettman added that “for a market of this size, what [Oilers owner Daryl Katz] is doing borders on being generous, as opposed to being an investment.” He said in a small-market city like Edmonton a mix of public and private money is necessary to make the project sustainable.
Let’s see, there’s the move threat, the obsolescence claim, the “team can’t compete charge” — yep, Bettman hit the stadium playbook trifecta! He didn’t complain about the quality of the chef’s salads, but you can’t have everything.
Edmonton city councillor Amarjeet Sohi immediately fired back at Bettman, saying yesterday, “‘Either you build the arena or we are going to leave.’ — I think that is totally inappropriate. What he stated I think undermines the good will and undermines the negotiations that are going on now.” Which is, of course, why the NHL had Bettman say it and not Katz. Somebody needs a refresher course in good cop/bad cop.