If you’ve been wondering how many times the city of Edmonton was going to agree to pump more money into an Oilers arena before it became too rich for their blood, we have our answer: Or, rather, we don’t have an answer in dollar figures, but we know that they’ve reached it:
The Katz Group asked city council for more public dollars for the arena project Wednesday, arguing the “iconic” structure can’t now be built for $450 million.
But city council turned down the request, which may put the future of the project in jeopardy.
Mayor Stephen Mandel wouldn’t say how much more money the Oilers’ owner was asking for.
Mandel has been the main cheerleader for the Oilers project, but it sounds like even he’s finally getting peeved at owner Daryl Katz’ continued price hikes. Asked after the council vote if he was still optimistic about the arena getting built, he replied: “Optimistic might not be the best word. Frustrated might be a better word.”
The Edmonton council held its meeting behind closed doors, so it’s impossible to know exactly what Katz asked for this time, but apparently it involved an annual operating subsidy on top of the $491 million in cash he’d demanded previously. Referencing a Katz Group letter that under the existing agreement it would be impossible to ensure “revenue streams from the arena will be sufficient to ensure the Oilers’ long-term sustainability,” Councillor Don Iveson told the Edmonton Journal, “That’s a roundabout way of saying they would like additional cash annually from the taxpayers of the City of Edmonton in order to close the deal. That’s the problem. Annual ongoing subsidy. … [The request for] cash money to offset operating costs for the Oilers directly is new.”
Given all the talk about new arenas in Seattle and Quebec and Markham and Virginia Beach and whatnot, you have to wonder if Katz decided this would be a good time to up his demands, since he has some viable alternatives if an Edmonton deal falls through. Admittedly, not alternatives that are already willing to give him $491 million, but he couldn’t know the Edmonton council would realize that. After all, plenty of elected officials elsewhere still haven’t.