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CITY COUNCIL TO VOTE ON NHL OILERS $1-A-YEAR RENT DEAL
Published April 23, 1998
The fate of the NHL Oilers now rests with Edmonton's City Council "after Edmonton Northlands approved a deal last night to give the team rent" for $1, according to Johnson & Findlay of the EDMONTON SUN. The Northlands board passed a motion to let the Oilers play in the Coliseum for $1 a year, "provided city council agrees to hand over C$2.4M a year to help cover an expected C$4.8M deficit." The motion was seconded by Mayor Bill Smith, and goes to a Council vote tomorrow. Under the current deal, the Oilers paid C$2.8M for rent, using money collected by the city through a ticket tax. Local investors who've bid to keep the team want to rent the facility for $1 a year, "yet still keep most of the ticket tax and game concession" revenues. In return, the local group would give Coliseum management to Northlands for all non-Oilers events. Northlands says the deal would result in a C$4.8M a year operating deficit, of which "it is willing to pay half" if the city pays the rest. Smith said that the council vote "should be a no-brainer," but Johnson & Findlay write that the council must "consider the flood of calls that have come into City Hall" recently, the "majority of which have been opposed" to the city using taxpayer money to help the team (EDMONTON SUN, 4/23). Team and Northlands officials say the assistance "isn't for the team but for Northlands," a non-profit organization which oversees the Coliseum. Councilmember Brian Mason, however, called such aid "money straight for the team" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 4/23). In Edmonton, Donna Marie Artuso writes under the header, "Miffed Council Will Back Oilers Deal" (SUN, 4/23). Also in Edmonton, Scott Haskins writes, "I want to know who votes no. I want to know who should receive a standing boo the next time they set foot in the Coliseum" (EDM. SUN, 4/23).