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).