Today, as you may recall, is the deadline set by Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel for Oilers owner Daryl Katz to meet with city officials and publicly state just how much public money he wants for a new arena. Last night, Katz responded with an open letter to the city council that seems to have been written with both middle fingers firmly raised:
“We have gone backwards,” said Katz in a letter delivered late Tuesday to city council and the media.
“We and the city can’t even agree on basic assumptions relating to the financial aspects of operating a new arena.
“Perhaps with more time and political leadership this deal can still be saved. But as it stands we remain far apart both on substance and process.
“Mayor Mandel, this is an opportunity for Edmonton to be bold and forward-looking, and it warrants your support and leadership.”
In case you missed it, that’s a “No, we won’t meet with you. Also, you suck as a leader.”
Mandel didn’t immediately remind Katz that a deadline is a deadline, saying instead, “I’m not sure where we go from here. It’s frustrating. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want to come to city council to talk about whatever the issues are. Negotiations are not in good shape.” City councillor Dave Loken added, “I’m not going to call [the arena] dead right now,” but said there isn’t much appetite on the council for continuing negotiations if this is how Katz is going to be.
One possible option for the city, as suggested by the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples, is for the city to tell Katz that if he doesn’t want their arena deal, they’ll just find another NHL team that will. Which probably isn’t going to happen for a dozen reasons, but it’s still nice to see someone recognizing that cities have something that teams need, and not just the other way around.