Alberta to Oilers: No, really, we’re not going to fill your $100m arena budget hole

In case you weren’t tipped off to the idea that Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz wasn’t going to get his requested $100 million in provincial funds for a new arena when Alberta officials said there was no money in the budget, now it’s official: The budget is out, and there’s no money in it. The province indicated, as it has before, that Edmonton can use money from its state provincial-funded Municipal Sustainability Initiative budget if it wants, but Edmonton pointed out, as it has before, that it already has dedicated that money to other projects.

So, we’re back in the same stalemate we’ve been in for years: Despite Edmonton being willing to give Katz a ton of money, there’s still a $100 million hole that nobody is offering to fill. Downtown Business Association Jim Taylor said yesterday that “the arena is a done deal and this doesn’t change it,” but there are done deals, and then there are done deals.

20 comments on “Alberta to Oilers: No, really, we’re not going to fill your $100m arena budget hole

  1. My cynical guess is that the Oilers will get their money and that Calgary pols are just holding this up to ensure that the Flames get equal money from the province.

  2. Gah, I said “province” the first two times, blew it on the third. Damn perky Canada…

  3. Ben – The Mayor of Calgary has repeatedly said that it’s not the city’s job to fund private infrastructure like an arena. Nenshi doesn’t seem to be interested in ‘legacy building’ white elephants.

    The massive deficit in Alberta might have something to do with no money for an arena.

  4. Not matter how this works out the province will always have its two division 2 college football…..errrrrr, I mean its two CFL teams.

  5. Mike – Why would either team, but especially the Oilers, move? Both are doing well according to Forbes and there’s no market, other than being the second team in Toronto, that would be more profitable.

  6. Hi Chris. Geeze, I don’t know man. Teams move. I would be against such a thing, personally. Why did the Rams move from Los Angeles to St. Louis, only to contemplate a move back 15 years later? Why did the Jets move to Phoenix? Why did the Nordiques decide to take up space at the Pepsi Center? I don’t know. If Canada can keep their hockey teams, I’m all for it. If they want to take the Avalanche, that would be all right too.

  7. Why can’t Enmax (an Alberta corporation who sponsors the Oilers) write a cheque for the remaining $100 million and while they are at it, put up some money towards a new arena for the Flames in the future? It would make sense as they sponsor both teams and they are a massive oil company based in the province of Alberta.

    @ Mike: I highly doubt that the Oilers and Flames will move out of the province. As for the St. Louis Rams, I am of the opinion that they will relocate back to Los Angeles once the lease in St. Louis expires. The Raiders & Chargers are also in play to move back into L.A. as well. If one of these teams move back to America’s second largest city, you can cross the other one off as the NFL probably doesn’t want two AFC West teams in L.A.

  8. Chris,

    One a province (or state) puts up some money cities have a way of changing their tune. At this point I’d bet money that both Edmonton and Calgary will get new rinks with hefty subsidies from both cities and the province.

  9. I’m not so sure about that, Matthew. It seems obvious, but I think if the Chargers were to move, it is very likely that they would re-brand, and if neccessary move to the NFC West. They could swap the Seahawks back into the AFC West. That is if they wanted to do the Raiders and the Chargers. The Raiders reduced their seating capacity to 53,000, they won’t be in Oakland much longer without a new stadium. The A’s also know that the has run its course. It will be interesting to see what happens. Take care.

  10. Ben, if you’ll put a time limit on it — say, approval in next two or three years — I’d take that bet.

  11. Matt: Enmax is a power company primarily. Did you mean Encana? It is a gas company…. but it’s losing about $4/share in “earnings” these days…

    I agree with your broader point… if capitalist billionaires want welfare, they should start by canvassing their capitalist billionaire pals… there are plenty of them here, thanks to power deregulation and a ridiculously low oil royalty scheme (both of which artificially inflates dividends to energy company shareholders… so much for a free market).

    Ben: The provincial gov’t is located in Edmonton, so it’s unlikely that they are trying to do Calgary a favour. The Calgary members of the PC gov’t are mostly defecting to the opposition, so they actually have less power now than they did before the last election. In general, I agree with you though, the province knows it’s not one gift that’s being demanded, it’s two (at least).

    I live in AB and frankly, I don’t want to see any provincial tax money going towards 2 of the 9 most profitable nhl businesses in the league. If they are “missing” $100m, the best way to address that would be through building more modest arenas and using a greater amount of private money towards those buildings (like, 75-100%).

  12. I was under the impression that Enmax is a power company. Thank You for the correction Mr. Bladen. I also made a similar point about cities, counties, state & provincial governments regarding the funding of new and renovated stadiums in the Atlanta Falcons stadium thread (the one currently at the top of the page). Let me know what you think.

  13. Neil,

    You’re on. Shall we say one Yankees/Mets/Nets ticket the first time I’m in NYC post-3/9/16?

  14. You got it. Determination of what constitutes “hefty subsidies” to be decided on by a vote of the comment section here, if it comes to that.

  15. Since I live ‘here’… can I play the role of “house’ and thus be guaranteed a win regardless of which of you wins the bet???

    Just so we’re all clear, would it be fair to summarize the bet as “Flames and Oilers get $100m min each in provincial money by 3/9/2016” ?

    The fact is, the cities are already fully on board… so that part of the bet seems to be largely irrelevant. It’s really about the provincial cash, isn’t it?

  16. I can’t speak for Neil on whether he doubts the city cash as well.

    I was thinking that 10% of arena cost would qualify as hefty but I’m not one to prevent a good ol’ fashioned wager if the comment section decides on a different number.

  17. To clarify if it were a city/county then 10% might be less than hefty but I think it’s fair to say that 10% is more than the amount kicked in by most states/provinces.

  18. 10% ain’t going to fill the Oilers’ hole. The Flames still haven’t said what they want in public cash, have they?

  19. I’m just saying I could see Alberta saying to Katz “we’ll give you $50M if you cover the other $50M” and then offering CGY $50M as well. I’d consider that a hefty province contribution.