Notwithstanding the possible breakthrough in getting provincial money for a new Edmonton Oilers arena, team execs appear to be ratcheting up the threat of a Plan B if they don’t get their sought-after downtown facility. A “source close to the negotiations” tells the Edmonton Sun that the Oilers are looking at a local Enoch Cree reserve as a possible fallback site: “They could easily build an arena out there, is what they’re alluding. I don’t know how much is playing poker and how much is reality.”
Cree leader Ron Morin, meanwhile, was somewhat more circumscribed, saying only that officials had spoken with representatives of Oilers owner Daryl Katz this spring about possibly hosting an arena, but that they’d only consider it if a downtown arena fell through:
“We know, without a doubt, the Oilers are Edmonton. Everybody knows that. We’re not trying to disrespect or trying to do anything malicious. What we’re saying at Enoch is, if Edmonton can’t find a way to get it done, then if there’s a chance for all of us to put our heads together — meaning Edmonton, the Katz Group, Enoch, the province — and see if it could work better at Enoch, why wouldn’t we explore that?”
No financial details were provided, so take this with a huge grain of salt for now: Katz needs construction money, not land. But he also needs leverage, so leaking work of another possible bidder — if he’s the one who leaked it — could serve him just as well as an actual workable plan.