Four days after the Edmonton city council told him that $491 million in subsidies was all it was going to give him, really, Oilers owner Daryl Katz has fired back in a big way in an interview with the Edmonton Journal:
- Katz revealed that he’d asked for a $6 million annual operating subsidy on top of the up-front cash, but that really, the council shouldn’t have been surprised at this: a “mechanism to offset capital and operating costs of the new arena” was always part of the negotiations, he said: “I feel badly if members of council were caught off guard, but I guess that is politics and that’s not actually our responsibility.”
- If he doesn’t get all the money he wants, “all bets are off and we’ll have to figure out what comes next. And I don’t know what that will be.” But it’ll be something bad, because “there’s a lot at stake and people in Edmonton need to understand the full picture.” Which he doesn’t know what it’s a picture of yet, but everyone needs to understand it, okay?
- He’s not actually asking for the city for an operating subsidy; really, the Oilers would be subsidizing the city just by existing. Because without the Oilers — yes, we’re back in counterfactual land again — Edmonton “would have to pay all the capital and operating costs, just like Quebec City will, just like Kansas City, just like Phoenix, just like Seattle, just like Hamilton, and just like other cities that would all like an NHL or an NBA team to subsidize their arenas. So, you see, in our view it is the team that acts as a subsidy for a city’s arena, which is effectively infrastructure, not the other way around.”
Let’s stop and admire this for a moment, shall we? Here we have a sports team owner who has demanded that city taxpayers build a new arena just for him at a cost of almost half a billion dollars — and then says that the city should be glad he’s going to pay anything towards operating the place, because if they built an arena and his team didn’t play in it, then where would they be, huh? HUH?
Really, I’m speechless with awe. I don’t know what’s Canadian for chutzpah, but Katz deserves some kind of medal for it.