Katz' Seattle Trip Could Hinder Oilers' Edmonton Arena Project
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).