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After Oilers Owner Daryl Katz on Monday toured Seattle's Key Arena, the city of Edmonton’s proposed arena deal is “a big, ugly, stinking, collapsing mess,” according to David Staples of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. The Seattle threat was a “risky step” for Katz, and has “damaged a compact that existed between him and his most important supporters, Oilers season ticket holders.” For Katz to “now suggest that all bets are off with the future of the team in Edmonton when his lease at Rexall is up in 2014 is a slap in the face to the Oilers faithful.” This is the “real Katz we’re finally seeing here.” He is “no Oilers saviour, no hero of the city, just a guy looking out for his own interests” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/26). Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel said, “In Seattle you have football, baseball, if they get an NBA team (then it will be pro basketball), college football, college basketball, and then hockey. I’m not sure you’re going to sell out 18,500 seats a game or 18,300 seats a game there at $8,000 a season ticket.” Mandel said that talks are "ongoing between the Oilers and Edmonton officials,” but that he “wants the affair settled one way or another by the city council meeting on Oct. 17” (CP, 9/25).
NOT SO FAST: ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun wrote, “Let’s be clear here, there’s almost zero chance Katz can move the Oilers out of Edmonton." The NHL BOG "would never vote in favor of that given what the City of Edmonton is willing to put in for a new downtown arena.” The trip to Seattle was “all about Katz gaining some leverage in his dealings with the City of Edmonton, wanting to get a better deal for himself with the new rink” (ESPN.com, 9/25). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday said an arena deal in Edmonton is achievable "and with a new arena there should be no reason to have any doubts about the future of the Oilers in Edmonton” (AP, 9/25).
WAYNE’S WORLD: In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger notes Hockey HOFer Wayne Gretzky was seen at the Packers-Seahawks game on Monday, the same day Katz was also in Seattle “allegedly kicking the tires on the city as a potential new home for an NHL team.” Gretzky said, “I'm not involved with the NHL, I'm really not. It's just one of those things where I was invited to go to a football game and I said why not. Any official capacity is absolutely zero. I have no stake or claim in any team in the NHL whatsoever. Went there to enjoy a football game." He said of the Oilers leaving Edmonton, “I just don't see it happening. I think over time here cooler heads are going to prevail and Daryl and the city will hammer out a deal and get it done. I can't see them moving. It's one of the greatest franchises in all of professional sports. You don't move a franchise like that” (TORONTO SUN, 9/26).
Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp “called a meeting of College Station, Bryan and Brazos County officials on Monday and requested $38 million” toward Kyle Field’s reconstruction, according to sources cited by Brent Zwerneman of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. A source said that Sharp also “told the startled group a decision had already been made regarding Kyle: a renovation would cost around $450 million and the new configuration would seat 103,000.” Another source said that Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin “wasn't aware of Sharp's meeting until after it had concluded.” The source said that Sharp was “most likely simply trying to gauge the reaction” of local leaders and that “nothing has been decided on the Kyle Field front -- including whether the Aggies might play away from Kyle for the 2014 season while a demolition and rebuilding takes place.” Loftin in a statement said, “It is important to reiterate that no decisions have been made as to whether the Aggies will play a season away from Kyle Field, and we continue to hope that this will be an unlikely option” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 9/26).
OLIVE BRANCH: In New Orleans, Bruce Eggler reported “architects have redesigned the west side” of Tulane Univ.'s proposed new football stadium “so that it will be only 38 feet high, not 48 feet.” The move announced Monday “could soften the opposition of at least some nearby residents to Tulane University’s plans to build an on-campus football stadium immediately behind their homes.” In addition, instead of “having the entire west side extend to just 20 feet from the rear property line of the Audubon Boulevard residences, the exterior wall has been redrawn to angle slightly forward at either end of the stadium, increasing the amount of buffer space.” The $60M stadium “will have 25,000 seats and be able to accommodate 30,000 spectators.” The university “hopes to start work” early in ‘13 and “open the stadium for the 2014 football season” (NOLA.com, 9/25).
CLEARER VIEW: In California, Jeff Faraudo reports a construction crew at Memorial Stadium yesterday “removed two large poles used to support netting behind the goal posts at the north end of the facility after season-ticket holders complained their views were obstructed.” Cal Assistant AD/Capital Planning & Management Bob Milano Jr. said that the athletic department “received enough complaints after their first two games in the new stadium to make the changes at the north end, where the Bears sell ‘gold-zone’” season tickets. Most seats in the south end zone are “sold to visiting fans,” and Milano said that Cal “heard no concerns from anyone at that end” (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 9/26).