Thursday, January 31, 2013

An arena deal to change more than the fortunes of a hockey team

The deal announced last week between the Edmonton Oilers and the City of Edmonton will not only help to bring increased revenues to the hockey club, but may make for a bit of social engineering designed to change the fabric of a neighbourhood.

Much is being made about the 480 million dollar development, which could start as soon as August, with debate still part of the discussion as to whether it was the best possible deal for the City.

Gone it seems is the threat of moving the Oilers to Seattle, the prospect of the new destination building for Edmonton's downtown area more than securing the teams future as a fixture in Northern Alberta for years to come.

That prospect came to a positive resolution for hockey fans with the 10-3 city council vote of last Wednesday night, securing approval for the project and leaving behind he bitterness and anxiety over the past troubles that the project ran into over the last year.

There is one item that might leave Edmontonians wondering about the project however, there is some suggestion that the provincial government may provide some of the funding for the proposal, and the Alberta government isn't quite ready to write a direct cheque  to the cause.

There does seem money set aside in something called the Municipal Sustainability Initiative and most observers seem to believe that it's just a matter of moving money from one pile to another to solve that funding issue.

Credit is being shared among the three key components of the deal, Oilers Daryl Katz, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who may not find anyone buying him drinks in twenty nine other cities (well maybe Phoenix, he has been kind there) but in Edmonton, he probably won't have to pay his bar bill well into the future.

Both Daryl Katz and The City of Edmonton were quick to trumpet the deal forged last week.

Some suggest that it was through Bettman's hand holding in the last few weeks, that the deal finally got from discussion phase to signing phase.

The new arena already is getting notice, marked by some as the most ambitious development that the city has seen, which puts it in rather impressive company we imagine, up there with Commonwealth Stadium and the West Edmonton Mall to name a few.

It obviously will be much more than a hockey rink, it will be more of an entertainment destination, providing a forum for any number of events, some of which perhaps were passing Edmonton by owing the aging nature of the Northlands palace of shinny.

When it opens, we imagine it will be the envy of many a community across the nation, wit the most likely jealous looks coming some two hours from the south.

Stand by Calgary, we suspect that soon, very soon, the competition with the cousin's to the north will be renewed.

The Oilers website featured a few items of interest on the latest developments on the arena proposal.

City and Katz Group Score Framework on New Arena
Edmonton's Downtown Arena Deal: We Are A Great Northern City
A Landmark Day (video)

Some other background on the deal between Daryl Katz and Edmonton can be found below.

Edmonton Journal-- Devil's in the details for new arena
Edmonton Journal-- What's in the Edmonton arena deal?
Edmonton Journal-- Council approves revised downtown Edmonton arena deal (video)
Edmonton Journal-- City Council takes leap of faith for new arena
Edmonton journal-- Arena deal greeted with rousing round of ... silence
Edmonton Journal-- We owe thanks to Mandel, Katz and Bettman for this arena deal
Edmonton Sun-- A year and a half later, city council approves Katz Group deal very similar to one approved in October 2011
Edmonton Sun-- City makes 'absolute deal ' to build downtown rink, says Edmonton's mayor
CBC-- Arena approval
CBC-- Arena construction will go ahead
CBC-- Agreement for Edmonton arena passed by council

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