Edmonton council could vote today on Oilers arena, still no word on how they’ll pay for it

Today could be the final vote to determine the fate of … ha ha, you thought I was going to say the Sacramento Kings, didn’t you? (Because you, um, don’t read headlines. Yeah, that’s it.) No, I’m talking about the Edmonton Oilers arena project, where the Edmonton city council has called a special meeting for 1:30 pm today to discuss the $480 million project and how to fill a persistent funding gap that’s either $30 million or maybe $44 million or maybe a lot more than that, but who can be bothered with trifling details like “numbers” when there’s an arena to be built?

Coun. Bryan Anderson confirmed the meeting will deal with the arena, which still needs $30 million out of the required $480 million in construction funding.

“It sure as hell wouldn’t have come forward this quickly if there wasn’t a solution on the remaining money,” Anderson said.

Anderson, who knows the details but wouldn’t discuss them, said he has talked to several of his colleagues and thinks the proposal will be approved.

Meanwhile, an Edmonton resident plunked down $5,000 of her own money to poll her neighbors on whether they think the arena deal is a good one, and got a resounding “no”: In a poll of 300 randomly selected city households, with a 5.6% margin of error, 61% say no taxpayer money should be used on a new Oilers arena, 83% oppose the city taking on half a billion dollars in arena debts (some of which would be repaid by Oilers owner Daryl Katz, but by no means all of it), and 71% think the city should go back and renegotiate a better deal.

And also meanwhile, Edmonton apparently did get neighboring communities to agree to kick in $25 million in government-capacity-building money toward the arena last Friday, though apparently only by not actually recording the votes for and against the proposal:

Board CEO Doug Lagore said he recorded the vote as 17-7, which just meets the threshold to pass under the board’s regulations.

However, Lagore said St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse “didn’t complete the roll properly. I don’t know what he did.”

An Edmonton Journal audio recording of the proceedings suggests one vote cast against the arena was missed and accidentally counted in support. If eight of the 24 members vote against a motion, it fails.

Man, today’s council meeting is going to be just awesome.


One comment on “Edmonton council could vote today on Oilers arena, still no word on how they’ll pay for it

  1. Well, they passed the thing. I know, shocker, right?

    Apparently, the “key” was Katz agreeing to match extra money the city put in to fill the “remaining” $20m gap (so he’s putting in $15m up front… to what is now a $604.5m project).

    “He met us half way” one of the councillors said.

    Nope. Not by a long shot.

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