Edmonton Mayor Says Oilers Owner Katz Still Needs To Publicly Discuss Arena Plans
Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel said that Oilers Owner Daryl Katz and team officials “must now come to city hall and talk publicly about the new arena deal they want,” according to Sarah O’Donnell of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Mandel’s comments came Saturday after Katz bought full-page ads in the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun “apologizing to citizens and Oilers fans for botched negotiations over the proposed downtown arena.” The letter came five days after Katz “sparked a powerful backlash among Edmonton residents by making a trip to Seattle, a city that hopes to secure an NHL franchise.” The letter begins with Katz “telling fans that he owes them an explanation for his methods.” Katz wrote, “I took for granted your support and your love of the Oilers. … That was wrong, and I apologize.” O’Donnell noted Mandel set an Oct. 17 deadline for a Katz Group rep to “detail at an open council meeting what the Oilers’ franchise needs to reach a final agreement on building, financing and operating the arena” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/30). The CP’s Dean Bennett wrote, “Nevertheless, the letter still does not say if the team will -- as the mayor asked -- make its case in public or at city council as to why it needs millions of dollars more in public funds.” The letter “doesn't clear up whether the Oilers will still pursue other cities for relocation talks while negotiations continue with Edmonton” or if Katz “plans to apologize to Seattle officials for using the city as a catspaw in negotiations with Edmonton” (CP, 9/29).
SMART MONEY: In Edmonton, Terry Jones noted Katz spent more than C$15,000 buying the full-page ads, and it “might be the best $15,000 Katz ever spends.” One letter "isn’t going to endear himself to a city." However, if it is followed by a "swift and decisive ‘win-win’ deal he mentioned in the letter to take the arena from the already-agreed-on framework" for C$450M to cover the increased costs now pegged at C$475M "without further dragging the image of this town through the mud, that’ll be the second of two steps toward that end.” The letter itself “could go a long way to be an image-changer for the man who believes an iconic downtown arena and entertainment district will be an image-changer for the city” (EDMONTON SUN, 9/30). Also in Edmonton, Jonathan Willis noted if Katz “threatens to leave again, there’s a letter on the public record in which he says that the team needs the city.” Whatever “limited credibility a threat of immediate relocation had, it’s gone now.” However, the more “subtle threat of eventual relocation remains very much on the table” (EDMONTONJOURNAL.com, 9/30).