The Edmonton city council blinked on Friday, voting to approve the purchase of land for Oilers owner Daryl Katz’s proposed $450 million arena, as the owner had insisted must happen by October 31. In exchange, Katz agreed to drop a controversial non-compete clause with the city’s old arena, which was proving to be a deal-breaker.
The full arena plan now goes before the council on October 26 — for certain values of “full.” Under the plan, the city will pay $350 million toward the arena cost, then be repaid over time by parking revenues, ticket taxes, a TIF, and $5.5 million a year in rent payments by the team. That still leaves a $100 million gap, though, for which the bill is expected to be delivered to the province of Alberta — whose newly elected premier, Alison Redford, has already declared her opposition to arena funding.
Clearly, both Katz and the council are determined to throw the arena problem in Redford’s lap, and make her be the bad guy if she doesn’t want to cough up $100 million. What happens if she calls their bluff isn’t clear — is the city still stuck with the arena land, for one thing? This is a long, long way from over.