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Volume 24 No. 113


The Edmonton City Council yesterday "gave the go-ahead" to a $450M (all figures Canadian) arena for the Oilers "intended to transform downtown," according to a front-page piece by Gordon Kent of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. While the Oilers “won’t be able to leave their current home in Rexall Place in the fall of 2014 as originally planned, city officials said they could be ready to move the following season.” Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel said that there should be “announcements about new businesses in the entertainment district around the arena shortly after council signs off on a final contract in a few weeks.” The plan, “which passed 10-3, uses money from the city, Oilers owner Daryl Katz, a ticket tax and a hoped-for contribution from the province.” If bids from construction companies are higher that $450M, “either side can walk away from the deal.” Katz had “committed to investing an additional $100 million into surrounding projects when the market warrants, but in a last-minute change on which he was consulted will now put in $30 million before arena construction starts.” Once the agreement was approved, “councillors immediately started the ball rolling toward construction by approving $30 million for design work.” This should mean “an interim schematic diagram will be ready next spring and a final design, which the city and Katz must both accept, going to council in November 2012 so the project can be sent out to tender to set a price” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/27). In Edmonton, Michelle Thompson reported the arena “will be funded through a $125 million city contribution and $125 million ticket tax, topped off by $5.5 million a year for 35 years from the Katz group.” It is “still not clear where the remaining $100 million will come from, though the city is still counting on the province to chip in the difference” (, 10/26).

: An EDMONTON JOURNAL editorial states, “This far-sighted bit of risk-taking by Mayor Stephen Mandel’s council and Oilers owner Daryl Katz has great promise of playing a key role in transforming Edmonton’s downtown, securing this energy capital’s long-term future.” A significant number of residents “feel the city is contributing too much and Katz too little to the project.” The belief is that “all Edmontonians will benefit -- from the economic spinoffs boosting the tax base, from the proliferation of non-hockey entertainment options that they will use, from the greater future attractiveness of Edmonton as a place to live and from the fact that NHL hockey will now be guaranteed to remain a key part of the community pride for at least the next 35 years” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/27). In Edmonton, Staples, Simons & MacKinnon write, “Some days, we get it right in Edmonton. We set aside our civic anxieties, our perpetual differences.” After careful consideration and heated debate, “we find consensus, then push forward with gusto.” On Wednesday, “that’s what Edmonton city council did.” This is “a good deal, far better than the existing Oilers deal at Rexall, and certainly right in line with what we see in terms of public/private funding models for new arenas in other NHL cities” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/27).

The MLS Timbers yesterday announced plans to “expand seating capacity at Jeld-Wen Field” for all home games during the '12 season “in response to the high demand for tickets during the 2011 season,” according to Geoffrey Arnold of the Portland OREGONIAN. The team also announced that it will “increase the number of season tickets available to 14,500 for the 2012 season.” The Timbers “sold out all 17 home games” in their inaugural MLS season. Capacity at the stadium was 18,627 for 15 of the 17 games, but the Timbers "expanded seating for two home games that increased capacity to 20,323." The team “rolled back the tarp in some sections of the north end of the stadium to increase capacity for those games.” Timbers COO Mike Golub said the new seating capacity will be "in the neighborhood" of the same number of available seats for those matches. He said that the team “hoped to make an announcement on the exact number of seats before the end of the year.” Meanwhile, the team announced that it “has surpassed a 97 percent renewal rate for 2012 season tickets.” The new season-ticket total “represents an increase of 2,000 compared to 2011.” The team said that it “currently has a season ticket waiting list of more than 5,000 fans” (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/27).

The city of San Jose is “ready to sell about five acres of prime downtown real estate to the Oakland A's for $6.9 million -- almost a quarter of what the city originally paid for the land and $7 million less than it's worth on the open market,” according to a front-page piece by Tracy Seipel of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The sale is “detailed in new documents released Wednesday that give the A's exclusive rights to the land if they build a new stadium near HP Pavilion and Diridon Station.” San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said, "I think the price is a fair price when you consider that we want a ballpark, and the A's will have to pay for the ballpark with their money." But critics of the stadium idea called the proposed land sale a "public relations gimmick" to benefit the team and Owner Lew Wolff. Still, San Jose city leaders said that they are “determined to make sure that Wolff can purchase the land as soon as Major League Baseball finally clears the way for the A's to move to San Jose, the City Council puts it on the ballot and voters approve the land sale.” Wolff has said that the A's “will not purchase the land unless Major League Baseball allows the A's to relocate to San Jose.” Two other parcels -- about 5.5 acres owned by AT&T and the Los Gatos family -- are “needed to complete the proposed 13.4-acre site." The "final three acres are streets.” AT&T Dir of Corporate Communications John Britton yesterday said that the company's land “is not for sale.” But he added, "The company is always re-evaluating its real estate portfolio. ... And if Mr. Wolff calls, we're willing to listen" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/27).

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority "paid $3.2 million for construction of" U.S. Cellular Field's Bacardi at the Park restaurant "plus just about everything inside the place," according to a front-page piece by Jared Hopkins of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Another $3.7M from the agency "went for infrastructure upgrades for water and sewers at the Gate 5 plaza that made the restaurant possible." A '10 agreement between the White Sox and the ISFA shows that "at the project's completion, the team was exempt from owing the agency any money." That arrangement "contrasts with the management agreement for operating the stadium, which stipulates the team pay rent and make payments based on attendance." The ISFA "agreed with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf that the agency should not share in any restaurant profits." The restaurant is "closed for the season, but plans are for it to eventually operate year round." Fans with tickets can enter the restaurant "through a concourse; it also is accessible to anyone who wants to walk through the front door." Former Gov. and ISFA Chair Jim Thompson said that he "views the restaurant as just another type of concession, from which the Sox receive all the revenue inside" U.S. Cellular Field. Construction for the restaurant was "initially covered by the Sox, who were reimbursed by the agency." Hopkins notes the restaurant "appears to be unusual for a major league baseball stadium." Some full-service restaurants "accessible without a ticket to the game have opened in recent years without having to tap into public coffers" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/27). Thompson "acknowledged that there are no plans for any future development on 35th Street." And if there were, Reinsdorf "would have to give thumbs-up before they could go forward" (, 10/26).