Edmonton to Alberta: Oilers arena money all gone, send more

So the Edmonton city council indeed met last week, and indeed decided to throw a few million dollars a year extra at a new Oilers arena. It did not, however, actually figure out how to pay for all of the shortfall in arena funding, instead — wait for it — asking yet again for the province of Alberta to fill in the rest of the gap:

In the recent budget, the province increased the amount it grants Edmonton annually through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, which helps pay for municipal infrastructure projects, by $3 million.

City administrators recommended the city put the increase toward the arena over the next 20 years, which would raise $45 million of the $100 million arena shortfall.

Councillors approved the plan in an 8-5 vote, while making the deal contingent upon receiving clarification from the province with respect to the remaining $55 million…

Coun. Kim Krushell said the vote can be seen as a challenge to the province.

“Where are you in this equation? We’ve met you again halfway because we stepped up on the $45 million with the MSI and we’re waiting for the balance,” she said. “That’s the message that’s been sent out.”

Okay, to recap: Alberta premier Alison Redford said when she was elected in 2011 that she wasn’t going to give Edmonton any arena money. Then she said it again. And again. And again. And again. She did, however, point out that Edmonton was welcome to use its MSI money if it didn’t have anything better to do with it.

The Edmonton council has said, okay, fine, we’ll spend our latest allocation of MSI money, which should raise enough to pay for $45 million worth of arena debt. But we still have another $55 million of arena debt unpaid for. (This on top of the $294 million in arena debt and land costs it’s already agreed to, but we don’t talk about that anymore.) Where’s our money for that, huh, Premier Redford?

The Alberta government’s answer was prompt in coming. Care to guess what it was?

Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths repeated the government’s long-standing position that Edmonton can use its Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding for the project, but there will be no additional money.

“We are going to continue to support municipalities through MSI, and that is the perfect place that allows municipalities to make the decisions they need to make,” he said Thursday.

So all Edmonton needs is $55 million in blood from a stone, and this Oilers arena thing is totally happening. Except that it really needs $69 million in blood from a stone, since the funding gap was last reported at $114 million, not $100 million. But I guess we don’t talk about that anymore, either.


10 comments on “Edmonton to Alberta: Oilers arena money all gone, send more

  1. We can still put this back into the hands of the people, but the people must stand up. My suggestion is on my blog post here: http://garyalberta.blogspot.ca/2013/04/open-letter-part-2.html

  2. Krushell is an idiot.

    Just so I have this straight… the province increased MSI funding (which is supposed to be for actual infrastructure, not sports business subsidy) and the city is considering that to be “Edmonton’s” contribution and is demanding that the province “step up”?

  3. I just want everyone on here to remember that Neil owe’s me whatever-the-hell-it-was-that-we-bet when Alberta caves.

  4. I just hope it wasn’t some Canadian foodstuff that we bet, or else I don’t want to win: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_cuisine#Some_Canadian_foods

  5. …you haven’t lived until you’ve tried cod tongues and scrunchions Neil…. come to think of it, I guess I haven’t lived either….

    Ben: Define ‘caves’?

    What I’m wondering is, will you consider it a win if Alberta simply transfers to Edmonton infrastructure money they were going to get anyway, and Edmonton saves it for 3 years and uses it to pay off a loan/bonds?

    I assumed when you guys made that bet AB had to issue a check for $100m specifically for the arena project.

    Is that not the case?

  6. Nah if Edmonton only gets what we all knew they were getting and what the Alberta politician (premier? governer? information minister?) said they were getting, then I’d lose. I’m talking about Alberta kicking in the extra cash the way that HNIC assumes they will once the Flames’ owner comes calling with his hand out.

  7. There’s nowhere for them to move to. Or nowhere that would support the team more than Edmonton does, anyway. The league is hanging by a thread in a bunch of its markets already. It’s the City of Champions for crying out loud! If they keep calling their bluff, they’ll just keep playing in the old building.

  8. Mike:

    I agree. But, it is possible that Katz will hang the ‘for sale’ sign on the club if he doesn’t get a new publicly funded arena. No doubt Bettman will breeze in on a private plane to threaten the city on his/Katz’ behalf again as well. Or maybe he’ll summon Edmonton’s mayor to NY for that purpose, as he did a couple of years ago.

    I wonder who paid for his worship’s plane ticket then? Maybe he flew Katz-air???

    In the end, the Oilers would make far less anywhere other than Edmonton, even in a new building (I’m excepting Toronto from that discussion because they can’t get there without paying the Leafs $500-750m for the privilege… which rather eats into profits). But that doesn’t mean they won’t use every form of leverage they can to suggest they are moving to Seattle, Des Moines, Boise or El Paso…

    Hey, if Bettman could move them to Tucson, it might just help the Phoenix debacle that he doesn’t seem to be able to fix after 16+ years… Sure, sure, but who cares if they lose $50m a year in Tucson? It makes Phx look good by comparison, and it’s mostly just the dumb Canadian hockey fans in Tor, Mtl, Van and other places who are paying to cover those losses anyway…

  9. This is just sad. The City of Edmonton keeps asking Alberta over and over and over and over to pay the rest of the new arena cost and Alberta has said over and over and over and over no. Edmonton can’t take no for an answer. Edmonton can try again all they want but we all know the answer. Kudos to Alberta and the premier for not caving in. And I hope they don’t cave in later on. Accept the answer is no Edmonton and move on.

  10. This whole arena deal stinks. The money from the province is not going to come, and even if it did, the deal is horrible for tax payers.

    I hope we are able to vote idiots like Mandel, Kim, Karen, Anderson etc out before this deal is signed.

    I am so sick of yegcc not listening to what the public wants, and just acting in their own best interests.