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June 29, 2010

Oilers owner seeks Hamilton arena lease, rattling Edmonton

If Edmonton city officials were hoping to have a quiet summer for Oilers arena talks, looks like that ain't gonna be happening: Word leaked today that Oilers owner Daryl Katz is looking to take control of the lease of Hamilton's Copps Coliseum, which has long been rumored as a potential NHL expansion or relocation site.

What exactly all this means depends on what newspaper you read. The Edmonton Journal calls the move "inflammatory and provocatively timed." CTV notes that Katz has commissioned a study of whether Hamilton could viably support an NHL franchise. The Toronto Star, meanwhile, thinks it's all about a ploy to get control of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, not hockey at all.

Not that this would likely calm down the Edmonton city council, which is predictably flipping out, with councillor Ben Henderson telling iNews 880:

"You know, I like the fact that there was no implied threat about anything else. We were having what we'd hoped would be a healthy conversation about what was good for the city, and how we could facilitate things happening here. If this is intended to put up a cloud of a threat over the city, I don't think that creates healthy discussion. I don't think that creates healthy conversation. We've been down that road before, and I would argue it didn't end well."

If this deal is indeed about hockey, though, Katz probably thinks that any discussion is better than no discussion. That's the popular theory among other sports owners, anyway.


Just goes to show... the old age about wealth and intelligence not necessarily going hand in hand still applies.

Katz is playing chicken here, and he could easily lose. There is significant sentiment in N. Alberta in the "If you can find a city to take these bums, we'll help you pack". No one seriously wants them to go, but Katz overestimates the amount of public goodwill he has (left). He has handled the 'new arena' plan like he had flippers for hands. I don't know that a reclusive billionaire has much public good will to spare, but Katz has long since spent any he had...

Posted by John Bladen on July 2, 2010 03:54 PM

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