Edmonton council votes to approve Oilers arena, now just needs $114m from “other”

The Edmonton city council voted yesterday to approve the revised Oilers arena proposal, and Mayor Stephen Mandel says this means the now-$601-million project is a done deal:

“It’s 100 per cent. A deal is done. Council has approved it. All the other stuff is just going through some steps,” Mandel told reporters after the 10-3 decision by councillors.

Just going through some steps, like finding another $114 million in funding that’s currently slated to come from “other levels of government,” in the words of the CBC. That almost certainly means the province of Alberta, which never liked the idea in the first place, and which is now warning that the next fiscal year “is not going to be a fun budget.” Yes, it’s a step, but it’s a doozy.

Anyway, here’s the breakdown of the revised deal, as reported by various news outlets:

  • Oilers owner Daryl Katz puts up $143 million toward the arena project, which is now estimated to cost $601 million including infrastructure. Katz is no longer demanding a $6 million a year operating subsidy, a property tax exemption, a casino license, or a pony.
  • $125 million would come from a tax on tickets at the new arena, for hockey and non-hockey events alike.
  • The city would put up $219 million. It’s also already agreed to buy $74.9 million worth of land for the arena.
  • $114 million from “other.”
  • Katz would pay $6 million a year in rent on the city-owned arena, keep all revenues from events there plus from the sale of naming rights, and get a commitment from the city to buy $20 million worth of advertising there over 10 years.

That’s a lot better than when Katz was asking for all his additional goodies, but still a bit worse than the fairly crappy deal being proposed 14 months ago, since in the interim the estimated price has risen by $30 million, and Katz has gotten the council to agree to pay for half that. (Speaking of which, there’s apparently no provision for cost overruns in the current plan. But no worries, because that never happens, right?) Which means that by inserting a bunch of last-minute demands, pissing off the council, and then agreeing to kiss and make up, Katz has only managed to increase the level of enthusiasm for the same deal he wanted in the first place — plus come out of it with an extra $15 million to boot. What would that be called, a reverse bait and switch? There’s probably a term for it in the world of used car sales, or maybe a slightly different field.

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3 comments on “Edmonton council votes to approve Oilers arena, now just needs $114m from “other”

  1. Neil;

    Would it were that Katz “puts up” $143m toward this deal. In fact, the majority of that – as I understand it – comes in the form of annual payments over the 30-35yr agreement (in the last deal, Katz was paying $5.5m annually in rent, but required the city to kick back $2m annually for “advertising”… which I assume means they are being paid to be called the “edmonton” oilers… since no “visit edmonton” signage has ever been visible at the arena). Assuming that provision hasn’t changed, he has upped the ante a bit. However, as discussed many times previously, $143m over 30 years is not the same as $143m in capital funding.

    It is still not clear to me exactly what Katz is actually putting in up front. I suspect it’s not clear to many of the councillors either… but hey, details, details…

  2. Yeah, I read the reporting on the deal multiple times, as well as going through archives of past reporting, and still can’t for the life of me tell what the $143m is and what’s rent payments. Is there an MOU of this damn thing available anywhere?

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