Edmonton fills lingering Oilers arena funding gap, city cost now tops $300m

When last we checked in on the Edmonton Oilers‘ $676 million arena plan a little over a year ago, owner Daryl Katz was about to break ground, despite a lingering $50 million funding gap thanks to putting a line item in the budget marked “put a bunch of money from province here.” Arena construction is now well underway — lookit! — and a source has been found for the money that Alberta will still not be providing. Care to guess who? Everyone guessing “Daryl Katz” can put your hands down:

The city is preparing to pay an additional $32 million toward the downtown arena because money expected from the province hasn’t materialized.

Okay then! For those scoring at home, I think that’s now $311 million that the city of Edmonton has agreed to kick in for the arena project, which is a whole mess of loonies.

The good news, such as it is, is that the TIF district (CRL district in Canadian) created by the city to kick back taxes for use on the project is bringing in revenue faster than expected, meaning the city’s “just assume lots of revenue and hope it comes in” plan might actually work out. Of course, that’s revenue that now can’t be used on providing services for all the new development in the CRL district, or anything else the city might have wanted to use it on in the absence of an arena, but at least they won’t have to sell any hospitals.

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4 comments on “Edmonton fills lingering Oilers arena funding gap, city cost now tops $300m

  1. I think I owe you some money, Neil. We had a wager on whether the Province would cave in on that $50M.

  2. I am on the fence. I still think the city could’ve done better. Not 100% sold the spinoffs will materialize for everyone. And there is a strong chance that downtown will have a giant blackhole sucking everyone to the arena district ghettoizing the rest of downtown.

    But there’s a lot of construction and many restaurants and such coming in. But with the fall of oil and other stresses here there’s always the chance that this project will be one and done and little else will be constructed for the next 10 years.

    We will see. Currently there is a buzz in this city about downtown so let’s see how this goes. I’m happy to hear the excitement

  3. True Andrew, but the city might have found quite a number of ways to create ‘buzz’ by investing $311M in it’s downtown.

    In fact, I bet they could have come up with 20-30 different projects that could have been built with that kind of cash that would have benefitted a much broader spectrum of citizens.

    But they didn’t even look. Just handed money to Katz.

    My question re: the CRL is this: how much will it bring in AFTER the new bars and restaurants in the arena complex are open and begin sucking business away from the existing (or new but not arena based) options in the area?

    I could see the CRL revenue dropping significantly once the place is open.

  4. JB,

    I would never say there wasn’t a better purpose for that cash but so far it doesn’t look like this development will have Miami Marlins type spinoffs

    It will be interesting to see what comes of downtown edmonton over the next 5, 10 and 15 years because of this project.

    I’m not betting money that it will pay off in spades. But I’m optimistic it might not be a complete loss.

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