SBD/September 18, 2012/Facilities

Oilers Owner Katz Defends Request For Subsidy To Aid Construction Of New Arena

Katz says a subsidy for the Oilers arena is needed in the small Edmonton market
Oilers Owner Daryl Katz yesterday said that the team's "entire downtown arena deal is in definite danger of being derailed yet again," according to Terry Jones of the EDMONTON SUN. But it is "not because he’s asking for an arena operating subsidy," nor is it because he is "throwing out a bunch of new last-minute demands." Katz was "supposedly asking to be given" C$6M a year "in an alleged last-minute attempt to change the deal." He said, "I need to clear the air on the whole idea of an operating subsidy. ...  It was a leak out of the city. It’s unfair. It’s untrue. And it’s totally counterproductive.” Katz also said that the "perceptions are way off base when it comes from the costs projected to go over the original" C$450M. He said that he is "willing to put more money into the deal to help make it happen." Katz: "That’s one of the things we could do if we get the things that would make it win-win. It has to be win-win" (EDMONTON SUN, 9/18). Katz said that he has "always made it clear to city negotiators that there should be a subsidy for him to operate the arena." He added that about "a year ago, the city agreed to take this request for a gaming subsidy to the province ... but nothing has materialized." Katz: "If it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out. But when two parties are trying to make a deal, it’s just not sufficient for one to say, ‘Too bad, so sad, you guys eat it.’ That’s not how two sides make a reasonable deal.” Katz said of why the public subsidy is needed, “Edmonton is a great hockey town, not necessarily a great hockey market. ... Edmonton is tied for the smallest media market by far. And we have the lowest percentage of corporate season ticket holders" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/18).

NO ULTERIOR MOTIVES: Katz said he fears delays and rising costs could price the project “out of this market.” He added the arena project was “far too important to fail.” Katz: "I’m focused on making this deal work -- God knows, I’ve spent enough money. My wife thinks I’m nuts, OK? If this deal doesn’t work, what can I say, obviously all bets are off and we’ll have to figure out what comes next. And I don’t know what that will be.” Katz "dismissed suggestions he is changing the deal in midstream, making new demands to try to sabotage his own negotiations as a pretext to move the team.” Katz said, “Nobody can question my good faith commitment.” He added, “Quebec City is in the ground (on their arena project) and they started three years after us” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/18).
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