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Oilers Owner the Katz Group yesterday asked the Edmonton City Council "for more public dollars" for the team's downtown arena project, but the council "turned down the request, which may put the future of the project in jeopardy," according to a front-page piece by Elise Stolte of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. The Katz Group argued that the project "can’t now be built" for C$450M. Mayor Stephen Mandel "wouldn’t say how much more money the Oilers’ owner was asking for." In a letter to the city, Katz Group Exec VP John Karvellas said that the planned development project faced "significant cost overruns." But City Council member Kim Krushell said that the letter is "missing details of the funding request made to council in camera Wednesday." Krushell: "The requests today did not have to do with the design costs. They were additional costs." She added that if the requests had been "specifically about the arena and its design, council might not have been so united against it." Stolte notes the October agreement called for the C$450M project to be paid for with C$125M from the city, C$100M from the Katz Group, and C$125M from a ticket tax. The project is "still short" C$100M. Mandel said that he is "confident the city will get" that money from the province. The Katz Group’s letter said that under this current agreement "it has been impossible to ensure 'revenue streams from the arena will be sufficient to ensure the Oilers’ long-term sustainability.'" City Council member Don Iveson said the request for more cash “to offset operating costs for the Oilers directly is new.” Iveson added that it is "up to the Katz Group to convince the public the economic climate has changed so much they should increase public funding" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/13).
ICY RELATIONS? Mandel, as to his feelings on whether the downtown arena project would proceed as planned, said, "Optimistic might not be the best word. Frustrated might be a better word. But I’m optimistic in the sense (we can) get back together and see how we can make this work.” He added that the request from the Katz Group "did not come with an ultimatum." However, Katz Group Chair Daryl Katz has said that the team "won’t play indefinitely at their current home of Rexall Place" (CP, 9/12). In Edmonton, Paula Simons writes, "No more concessions for Daryl Katz and the Oilers." The City Council was "united in their new-found resolve." Council members "still won't say" exactly what the Katz Group requested. Simons: "I think the Katz Group simply doesn't grasp the way municipal politics works -- that the mayor, however much he supports the arena, needs public and council consensus for major public infrastructure" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/13).
A group of maritime-business leaders and the Mariners yesterday “renewed their objections" to a proposed arena in Seattle's Sodo neighborhood, a day after city leaders "revealed a revised agreement they say addresses those concerns,” according to Lynn Thompson of the SEATTLE TIMES. In a letter to the Seattle City Council, the maritime leaders “object to the ‘irreversible momentum’ for a Sodo location and say the site is clearly preferred by the city, despite assertions that alternative sites will be evaluated in an environmental review.” The letter is signed by Mariners reps. In the letter, the Sodo reps wrote the revised agreement "clearly preselects a location and only pays lip service" to a state environmental review (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/13). In Seattle, Nick Eaton notes the Mariners “want to make sure the City Council is indeed considering alternative locations for a new arena.” As part of an environmental impact statement, the City Council “plans to examine several areas -- including KeyArena at Seattle Center -- for their feasibility as possible alternates to the proposed Sodo site.” Such a study “must be done under the State Environmental Policy Act and could take as long as a year to complete.” It is “still unclear what would happen if the study finds” investor Chris Hansen's Sodo site is "undesirable." Hansen's offer to buy an NBA team and "pay for much of construction is only applicable to the Sodo site” (SEATTLEPI.com, 9/12).
PRESSING FORWARD: In Virginia, Aaron Applegate cites Virginia Beach city officials as saying that a deal for a new arena in Seattle “won't affect Virginia Beach's effort to build an arena and attract its own team.” Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said that he “doesn’t think the Seattle deal will interfere with Virginia Beach’s arena aspirations.” Councilmember Glenn Davis said, “What's happening in Seattle is irrelevant to what's happening here." Virginia Beach Economic Development Dir Warren Harris said, “We don't view the city of Seattle's efforts as being in conflict with our discussions with Comcast-Spectacor” (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 9/13).