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So it would appear that Darryl Katz is hellbent on holding his city and its fanbase’s love of the team he owns ransom for tens of millions of dollars more than Edmonton is kicking in to fund the man’s grandiose visions for a downtown arena district and, more importantly, arena for his losing, horribly-run hockey team.
This report from October, before Katz went to the city council with the air of a man who was not begging for an additional 1ish percent of his total net worth, says that the city will kick in $125 million for the arena and district up-front, with its taxpayers and attendees to the new arena ponying up an extra $125 million in ticket fees, which will come in at between $6 and $7 per seat.
On average, that’s about 19.23 million seats’ worth of tax, or 1,039 home dates with the arena in its hockey layout (given a proposed capacity of 18,500). That’s 25.34 years of sold-out home games. Of course, that doesn’t take into account other events at the new arena, of which there are more than a few, so let’s call it, what, 20 years of sold-out engagements? Or even 18 if you figure the new arena will draw more top-quality acts, which it likely would. Sure.
All of this, by the way, goes without mentioning that the deal still hinges on another $100 million coming from… somewhere. Federal or provincial government, probably. But that’s a bridge to cross when we come to it.
Which may be never, because now Katz is going on visits to Seattle, ostensibly to scope out if that city’s new dual-use arena would be a suitable venue to which he could move his team when the lease at Rexall Place is up. He won’t, of course, everyone sees the visit, acknolwedged on the Oilers’ website, for what it is: a terribly-acted bit of posturing.
People have noted that without an NHL team, some cities, like Hartford, can quickly lose their civic identity, and that therefore it is vital for the City Council to just give Katz the extra $25 million he wants. But the thing is, there’s nothing that says the Oilers have to be the NHL team in Edmonton. Call Katz’s bluff. Let them go to Seattle, and become the fifth-most-popular team in the city, where sports culture is currently dominated by football of the American and global varieties. The Oilers could slide in just two spots behind whatever NBA team they get, and right behind the Mariners. But they’d still be ahead of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, so that’s something, right?
Instead of now giving Katz $275 million on the backs of taxpayers, why not put it to a vote? If everyone says they want to keep the Oilers, then that’s fine. If they vote no, let ‘em walk, then swoop in and buy the Coyotes. That solves everyone’s problems.
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