Edmonton Pro-Arena Campaign Puts Pressure On City Council To Approve Oilers' Deal
A recently launched campaign in support of the Oilers' proposed downtown Edmonton arena is "raising the heat in a high-stakes fight by sending some councillors more emails than they’ve received on any other issue," according to Gordon Kent of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. As the Edmonton City Council "prepares for the latest arena showdown" tonight, council member Jane Batty said that she has "received almost 800 messages from people who want the city, the province and Oilers owner Daryl Katz to get a deal done." Batty: “It encompasses every kind of business and industry in Edmonton you can think of." Kent notes the council will "debate an administration recommendation Wednesday to give final approval to a master agreement with Katz that doesn’t specify the source of the arena money" or the C$14M to complete the "adjoining community rink" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/8). Edmonton council member Karen Leibovici said of tonight's vote, "It’s anyone’s guess" (EDMONTON SUN, 5/8). In Edmonton, David Staples writes Edmonton taxpayers have "already done plenty to push ahead" with the proposed C$480M arena. It is "time for those who will benefit most from the new arena -- especially out-of-town Oilers fans and concert goers, and Oilers owner Daryl Katz -- to find the missing" C$55M to finalize the deal. There are "last minute talks between the Katz Group and city officials to that end, but the deal is on life-support." But to "secure NHL hockey here in the long term, we need a new building." Rexall Place is "cramped and uncomfortable" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/8).
IN NEED OF A POWER PLAY: The EDMONTON JOURNAL's Paula Simons wrote the idea of getting Katz, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and Alberta Premier Alison Redford together "to hammer out a deal isn’t realistic." It is an "exercise in wishful thinking." About the "only power" the Downtown Vibrancy Coalition has is to "pressure wavering city councillors ... to support the deal." If Edmonton's "corporate elites are really so crazy about this arena idea, why haven’t they brought any real support to the table?" It would be a "genuine show of good faith if Edmonton’s corporate sector suggested something to break the impasse" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/7).