What to do when you’re unhappy with the lack of progress for your team’s arena or stadium deal? Set an arbitrary deadline! That’s what Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz did last week, declaring that the city council needs to vote on his $450 million arena deal by October 31, or else … okay, he left out the “or else” part. But really, they need to vote. Soon. Just because.
The rationale for the October 31 deadline is apparently that Katz’ option to buy the land where he wants to build a new arena expires on that day, though 1) there’s nothing saying Katz can’t negotiate an extension and 2) that isn’t really the council’s problem anyway. What is the council’s problem is that the terms of the deal are still awfully sketchy:
Coun. Linda Sloan scrutinized the deadline saying, “that kind of ultimatum is not a demonstration of good faith.”
She asked administration if Katz had yet provided financials or collaterals, proving he can uphold his $100 million contribution to the arena. The response from administration was “no.”…
As for the planned $100 million from other levels of government, [city manager Simon] Farbrother told council that the city has received “no formal promise,” from the province that was toying with the idea of funding an arena through a Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI).
The council is apparently now considering voting on the rest of the arena plan by October 31, contingent on getting $100 million from the province and Katz’ financial guarantees. It’s hard to see how that would help, though: If the deal is off if Alberta doesn’t come through with the cash, then Katz can’t reasonably exercise his option on the land; and if the deal isn’t off then, Edmonton would be putting itself in the position of having to find $100 million to fulfill a deal it had already committed its own money to. So it doesn’t really make sense, unless it’s just a push by Katz to jump-start a process that’s been dragging on for years … nah, he wouldn’t do that, would he?