Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Edmonton Snow Removal Issues

The following is an open letter sent to Edmonton City Council folks concerning our cities first snow fall removal efforts under a new bylaw. You can take the list of emails for your reference if you wish. They are:
linda.sloan@edmonton.ca; kim.krushell@edmonton.ca; dave.loken@edmonton.ca; ed.gibbons@edmonton.ca; karen.leibovici@edmonton.ca; jane.batty@edmonton.ca; tony.caterina@edmonton.ca; ben.henderson@edmonton.ca; bryan.anderson@edmonton.ca; don.iveson@edmonton.ca; kerry.diotte@edmonton.ca; amarjeet.sohi@edmonton.ca; Stephen.Mandel@edmonton.ca
The email sent:

I have been reading several stories on how the City has handled a new season on snow, in a winter city. Specifically I will refer to this link from iNews880 "1278 tickets and some parking complaints in snow post mortem"

I remember a time when we had signs that indicated a "no parking - snow route", and the City would announce when these were in effect. For the most part, the system worked well, and the existing laws also worked. So I am curious why we had to spend in excess of $600,000 to make new signs for a seasonal ban (with an added time frame) and then after people complained the time frame was removed from those signs? And how much more did THAT cost us? Do we not now have exactly what the existing snow parking ban signs were in place for?

Clearly, this council has failed to provide proper direction to Administration, and has just ASSumed that people in these areas are capable of thinking. Nothing like thinking people can think when they can't. And you continue to employ them as well.

In the above article, Sohi was "spot on" with people going back to parking after the plows went through. That's the way it was done before. Ticketing people after the fact? Really?

For Dunford to say it would be impossible to "un-ban"... I have to ask why? If the plows have gone...

As well, Diotte is "spot on" with his comments.

Sadly, we have Henderson's comments about the alternative. As yes, the brilliant idea that we will just ban all cars from parking on major roads in front of their homes for 6 months. The best friendly idea to residents who pay taxes, ever made.

I get that it's not a "right" to be able to park on the street in front of your own residence. But if you want to really make the residents of this City mad, please... keep on doing what you are doing.

I can't begin to tell you how many comments I have been hearing that equate how this City is being run by a Gestapo like service. The image this City is creating to the rest of the world is "come here to be abused, have your tax dollars wasted and be treated with no respect".

Welcome to Deadmonton.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The 50k tweet trip dedication

As I roll past the 50,000th tweet, it seems like yesterday when I signed up for twitter.  Like many, the reason I came is completely different than the reason I stayed.  Yet the reason I stay is the same as the reason I started with.

For decades, I've seen "the system" being broken. Feel free to choose what "the system" is, for it has multiple meanings depending on the issue at hand. Political, medical, legal, social... it's an endless list.

I've followed the "occupy" movement, and I'm pleased it is finding attention all over the world. We really need to get our heads out of the sand and wake up a little.  I know for many people, it hurts too much to take that time to learn about the world.  Those causing that hurt actually depend on people like you to not care, because that is the only way they can get away with what they do.

The 4 major banks in Canada have been averaging $2 billion dollars per quarter, per bank, per year.  That's $32 billion dollars a year in profits... yet they have the 'need' to raise service fees.

Many major corporations rake in billions of dollars in profits, yet pay no taxes.

Politicians waste money hand over fist and expect taxpayers (the non-extreme-rich ones) to just keep putting more and more back to cover their lack of wisdom and intelligence.

I've heard many people complain that the 'occupy movement' doesn't have a clue what they are doing, they can't nail down to specifics what the issues are.  Yet it is so easy to see, if you would only open your eyes.  If you really have to ask then maybe you have missed out on what has been happening because you are afraid to ask those questions...

What we have now, is a world based on Marketing. It doesn't have to be truthful, it only has to be catchy.  And those in marketing will do their best to find that sweet spot to part your money into their pocket. After all, that is what they are paid to do. Don't get me wrong... I am not saying all people in marketing are scum bags, because that is not the truth. Marketing is a good thing, when done with the right intentions.

Something to ponder on... You've probably seen the recent ads on TV that talk about "Why sign into a long term electrical contract... I mean really...".  Done with a pretty face and smile so it makes you feel good and strong. Remember, it is marketing... and you should be questioning the reason why.

Perhaps one reason is, they will make more money if you don't sign that contract.

New and improved in today's market place will, more often than not, simply mean that "we changed the product (therefore it is new and now costs us less to produce) and we have improved our profits at your expense."

And with that said, I dedicate this blog post to those in the world who have their eyes open.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Arena Timeline 2010

The following information is presented by Mimi Williams aka @willmimi on twitter. This is the third part of a 4 part series. A huge effort has been made to compile this, and the work presented is copyright by the author.

Part 1 deals with the 2005 to 2007 time period. Part 2 will handle the 2008 to 2009 period, leaving Part 3 (you are reading it here) covering 2010, and Part 4 will include the 2011 year. Please enjoy the read, and remember to thank Mimi for her extensive work.

Edmonton’s Downtown Arena – All the News that was Fit to Print (Part 3)


1/21: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman visits Edmonton. He is quoted by Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal, "The proposal is very exciting, very compelling and I think it's very important for the franchise. This is the second-oldest building in the league, the smallest market in the league and if this team is going to have success long-term they need a new rink."

1/22: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman visits Calgary and is quoted by Tamara Gignac of the Calgary Herald, “"There's an economic reality to what new arenas provide. If the Flames are going to continue to be successful and stable, ultimately they are going to need a new arena."

1/23: Retired City Manager Al Maurer tells the Edmonton Journal’s Gordon Kent that the city shouldn’t assume the public supports the new downtown arena proposal. He suggests arena proponents remember the Omniplex proposal which was voted down by voters in a plebiscite in 1970.

1/26: Despite the cancellation of 3 major acts the previous year, Northlands retains Pollstar’s ranking as the 3rd business arena in the country (less than 5,000 seats sold away from 2nd place Toronto), reports Sandra Sperounes of the Edmonton Journal.

1/27: John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal reports Northlands has hired “sports consulting firm CSL International and Spotlight Strategies to provide a "heightened level of due diligence" related to a variety of aspects of the proposed arena precinct.”

1/28: Edmonton Journal’s David Staples, citing an unnamed source, reports Northlands is examining at a number of options, including the possibility of putting an arena where the current horse racing track sits. University of Alberta’s Dan Mason tells Staples the Katz Group shouldn’t look at this idea as a threat, but as a Plan B.

1/30: David Staples writes in the Edmonton Journal that Tony Caterina, whose ward includes Rexall, wants Northlands involved in any new arena. “"My concern is for the existing area, the existing arena and Northlands ... to make sure that they are not hurt with anything we do."”

“So far, all the Oilers have said is they want control of all revenue from the new arena and from Rexall Place. Northlands, which built Rexall Place in 1974 with public funds, now takes in millions each year in concert revenue and would have to give up that money

The Northlands and Oilers-led arena committee's plan for financing the arena contemplated that whoever controlled the new arena would put in $11 million per year from arena revenues to pay off the building's mortgage.” – David Staples

2/2: Trish Audette and Archie McLean report in the Edmonton Journal that Northlands issued a press release stating "We feel it's important to clear up any confusion regarding inaccurate reports that have been made in the media recently. Northlands is not pursuing an alternate arena proposal on our site and we continue to support the vision for a downtown arena that is financially viable and in the best interest of the entire community.”

2/4: Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett, offering the Edmonton Journal’s Trish Audette a “sneak peak” into the provincial budget reiterates Premier Stelmach's previous “refusal to offer any funding for a proposed downtown hockey arena.”

2/10: Katz Group advises their $100M contribution will not go towards building the arena itself but to surrounding development. “The city would pay for a new Oilers arena itself, while the Katz Group would invest $100 million in the accompanying sports and entertainment complex” Gary Lamphier of the Edmonton Journal quotes company VP Bob Black. “The city could borrow money to build the arena, which it would own, then pay off the loan with a "community revitalization levy" using property taxes generated by the rest of the development.”

Lamphier writes the Katz Group expects both the federal and provincial governments to help with infrastructure, including a connection to the LRT station planned nearby, and that the plan “includes shops, restaurants and two office towers linked by a 4,000-square-metre pedestrian bridge to a $400-million arena across 104th Avenue. The enclosed "Winter Garden" walkover, featuring stores and standing eight metres above the road, will tie the district together, Black said. The arena area will include a community rink doubling as Edmonton Oilers practice ice, two hotels, a new casino and new student residences, he told the Building Owners and Managers Association.”

2/11: “Mayor Stephen Mandel said Wednesday he still expects the Katz Group to invest in a downtown Oilers arena, not just the accompanying entertainment complex.

"From what we've been told over a number of years and in an unending number of statements, that's always been our expectation," Mandel said. "One would anticipate that that would be part of the package. I think that's something the public would expect."

But company vice-president Bob Black told The Journal editorial board on Wednesday that while Daryl Katz might put more than $100 million into the surrounding complex, no cash is earmarked for the arena itself.

...Black said the Katz Group is still working out all financial details with the city, province and federal governments, but he now expects the city will own the $400-million arena and pay the mortgage on it. "There really isn't a suitable mechanism in our view by which Daryl Katz could invest $100 million into a building that's owned by the city."

The Katz Group has proposed that the city borrow money to build the $400-million facility, then recover its investment from property taxes generated by the surrounding office towers, hotels, casino, shops and other development.

Edmonton residents rejected a proposed downtown civic sports complex in a 1970s plebiscite, but Mandel said Wednesday morning the final word on the current issue should be left up to politicians.

"I don't believe a plebiscite is in the best interest of the citizens," he told reporters. "We were elected to make decisions and those decisions need to be made by city council."” – David Staples, Gordon Kent, Paula Simons (Edmonton Journal)

2/11: “According to Gary Klassen, the city's general manager of planning and development, a big downtown development like Edmonton City Centre pays 1.4 per cent of its assessed value in property taxes. So even if -- and it's a big if -- all the developments spurred by the arena had a total assessed property value of $1 billion, they'd generate $14 million a year in taxes. At that rate, it would take some 30 years to pay off the arena -- and that's not including interest costs.” – Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal.

2/11: The Edmonton Journal’s Gordon Kent writes, “A proposal to have the city fund a downtown arena with taxes generated by surrounding development doesn't appear to add up... The Katz Group wants the city to borrow money to build the $400-million sports facility, then repay the loan using tax revenues generated by the $1-billion worth of office towers, hotels, shops, casino and other projects planned for the district.

At current municipal interest rates, annual payments on a $400-million loan over a typical 20-year term would be about $31 million, Edmonton's chief financial officer Craig Warnock says.

But commercial real estate assessed at $1 billion generates about $14 million a year in civic property taxes, according to Journal calculations.”

2/11: Journal Straw Poll “What do you think of having the city build a downtown arena and recoup the costs through taxes on the Katz Group's surrounding development?” Sounds like a win-win (28%); Sounds like a lose-lose (41%); I need more details before I can say (31%). There were 1,122 votes.

2/12: “While Katz has in the past pledged to put $100 million into the arena, Black said the company instead wants to invest at least that much in the surrounding buildings to help ensure the work gets done. He expects the city will need to borrow less than $400 million for the arena, because the province and the federal governments will fund some of the infrastructure, such as a connection to the LRT station planned nearby.

But Finance Minister Ted Morton said he doesn't see the province having any money for the project over the next three years.” - Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal

2/12: “On Thursday, after a self-imposed, 19-month media silence, Oilers owner Daryl Katz was heard from on the NHL team he owns and on his downtown arena proposal. But he spoke by way of a canned infomercial in which he responded to queries lobbed at him by an employee. In a city with a well-known aversion to pretension, real or imagined, that approach is perceived as offensively aristocratic.” – John MacKinnon, Edmonton Journal

2/14: Edmonton Journal runs a letter from Daryl Katz wherein he suggests that people misunderstood his earlier commitment. He writes, “There has been a suggestion that I have somehow broken my pledge regarding a new arena. This is untrue.

Back at the time of my efforts to acquire the Edmonton Oilers, I made a commitment to help build a new downtown arena. Here is what I said in a Katz Group news release issued on March 25, 2008: "Daryl Katz, founder and chairman of Rexall Sports, has pledged to contribute his time, energy and on the order of $100 million toward the development of a new downtown arena following his acquisition of the Edmonton Oilers."

It was impossible then to know what the funding model might look like and who might own the arena, which is why I left the specific nature of the funding open.

Maybe I'm still suffering for having started my career as a lawyer, but I thought the words were clear.

In hindsight, I understand how some people may have read the comment differently, and I'm sure my preference not to discuss these things publicly hasn't helped.”

2/17: “The Katz proposal for a mega downtown remodel anchored by a new NHL hockey palace puts the cart before the horse. It assumes a new $400-million arena will revitalize the city core and, more importantly, that an arena-sparked revitalization will make feasible an associated $1-billion recreation, office and hotel complex, the taxes from which will pay for the arena.

I am unconvinced that downtown Edmonton is short a billion dollars worth of office space and hotel rooms, just as I am unconvinced that bringing fans downtown for Oilers games will be enough to kick off a new era of downtown activity and viability.” - Lorne Gunter, Edmonton Journal

2/19: Mayor says ticket tax could cover $125M of arena cost. The Journal’s Gordon Kent reports that Mandel feels that the Katz Group position that they will not put $100M towards construction as a "material change" that needs explanation. "If they're not going to put the $100 million in, which we assumed they would, then they have to come up with another solution to make that work."

2/23: Journal Straw Poll “Mayor Mandel is proposing a ticket tax on all events at a new downtown arena as one way to help pay for the project. What do you think?” Good plan, users should help pay (47%) Bad plan, ticket buyers shouldn't have to pay more. (8%) Katz should pay for it. (16%) We don't need a new arena. (29%) There were 2,682 votes.

2/24: Mayor Mandel writes about arena discussions in the Edmonton Examiner, “It is imperative that this discussion happen in an open and transparent manner and must include a significant public voice. I would encourage citizens to participate as early and as much as possible.”

2/25: Katz Group launches Edmonton Arena District social media campaign. (David Staples, Edmonton Journal)

2/26: Scott McKeen of the Edmonton Journal reports that Councillor Karen Leibovici, whose husband Stephen Zepp is a Medicine Shoppe VP, obtained a legal opinion that says she has no conflict of interest on arena. McKeen writes, “she'll have to keep a close eye on public reaction. If doubts are raised and the public starts pointing fingers her way, she'll have to re-evaluate the decision.”

3/10: CTV/ACCESS TeleResearch poll: “Should City of Edmonton build a new arena for Oilers?” Yes 22.55% No 55.45% Undecided 22%

3/20: Katz VP Bob Black pens Journal guest column, says arena district will have community rink, student housing, Winter Garden, hotels & office towers.

3/21: Northlands Chair Andy Huntley tells the Journal’s David Staples that Rexall, only halfway through its structural life, could operate “for decades”. "We've got a repair and maintenance plan that keeps this building standing just fine until 2024. Beyond that, I'm not too sure.” Huntley is quoted. "It's not falling down. In fact, it's actually built like a brick you-know-what."

3/25: The Edmonton Journal’s Trish Audette reports that half a dozen members of the provincial government watched the Oilers game from the Katz Group skybox. Along with Katz Group VP Bob Black, MLAs Thomas Lucaszuk, Doug Elniski, and Ray Danyluk were among those present. Danyluk tells Audette the new arena proposal was not raised.

4/7: Councillor Don Iveson writes in the Edmonton Examiner, “I, for one, am not keen on using the city's borrowing power to finance any part of the development.  City borrowing power is prudently limited by both city policy and provincial law, and we need all of what's remaining for the next phases of LRT expansion. I also don't think it's appropriate in general for the city to provide financing for a for-profit enterprise. We partner with not-for-profits all the time, but private enterprise has traditionally fended for itself.”

4/10: Josh Wingrove writes in the Globe and Mail, “Complicating the arena campaign is the perception that too much is going on behind closed doors, with too much potential conflict of interest. For example, the city committee that recommended a new arena included the Oilers' chief executive officer and one of the owners at the time. Also, Mr. Katz is a director of the mortgage company that employs Mr. Huntley, chairman of the board of Northlands, the team's current landlord. And the husband of popular Edmonton City Councillor Karen Leibovici is an executive at a Katz-owned company. (Ms. Leibovici did not respond to an interview request, but the mayor says it's up to her whether she votes when the issue reaches council.)”

4/14: Mayor tells the Journal’s editorial board that $450M cost estimates for the arena have been “blown out of proportion” by people who “don't have details”. (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

4/16: Katz Group issues a news release announcing they have hired former journo Steve Hogle as VP Pub Affairs & Communications. “Mr. Hogle's primary responsibility in this role will be media relations and stakeholder engagement for the Edmonton Arena District to handle arena media & stakeholder relations.” (Canada Newswire)

4/19: Katz Group files formal rezoning application. No plans or designs submitted.

4/20: “With no architectural drawings, no models, no massing studies, no information about the impact on traffic flow down 104th Avenue or the quality of life on the GMU campus, what exactly is city council being asked to rubber stamp? And who's going to pay for it all?

On all these points, Bob Black, the Katz Group's point man on the project, is almost whimsically hazy. The funding model, he says "remains a work in progress." Other key questions, he says, will be dealt with at "a time temporally removed from the present."” – Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal

4/20: “With few details available, no architectural renderings, no funding proposal and a mayor's race that lacks a serious challenger to incumbent Stephen Mandel, observers don't see how the arena proposal could become an election issue.

"The question is, will there be enough information by the time people vote? I doubt it very much ... [otherwise] it will turn into a political football and you'd hate to do that before a civic election," said Chaldeans Mensah, a political scientist at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton.” – Josh Wingrove, Globe and Mail

4/21: Journal Straw Poll “The Katz Group has submitted a rezoning application to the City of Edmonton for a downtown arena development. Should the project go ahead?” 35% You bet; 11% Nope; 41% Only if there's no public money; 13% Need more info

5/5: "There's an irony here, which is that someone else is designing a building, which we're being asked to fund and own," Councillor Don Iveson tells the Edmonton Journal, “"The last I heard down the (council) hallways, there wasn't a lot of appetite for that." (David Staples, Gordon Kent)

5/7: After the Katz Group hosts open house at Art Gallery, Scott McKeen of the Edmonton Journal writes that a majority of city councillors are not impressed. “But I couldn't vote for this proposal, either. I believe that if Daryl Katz wants to design and operate an arena for his benefit, he should build it. But if public money is involved, Katz can only be the primary tenant. Nothing more. If he throws in $100 million, give him naming rights and free rent for hockey dates for 20 years.”

5/8 Journal Straw Poll “The Katz Group has released more information about its vision for a downtown Edmonton arena district. What's your reaction?” I like it, let's go ahead (37 %); I'll never support the downtown arena (31 %); I still want more info (18 %); I don't care about this issue (14 %) Total votes: 1,264.

5/11: Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal reports that some councillors think holding a public hearing on the arena zoning at the end of June is rushing things. He quotes Councillor Linda Sloan, "I think it's very premature ... Is their business model reliant on public financing? That's the first question."

5/12: Joelle Reiniger of the Edmonton Examiner reports on the Katz Group arena open house “There was no mention of what each component of the project would cost and who would pay. To be fair, the project is in the concept stage. The Katz group is applying to have the district rezoned, not for a government grant – yet. That's coming. And that debate will be the real test of whether the public truly has a voice.”

5/14: The Journal’s Scott McKeen writes, “Katz, by attempting to fast-track the approval process, reveals either a stubborn streak, or naivety. Does he not realize a civic election looms large? Does he comprehend the awkward position he puts councillors in, with a request for approval now? Candidates will be knocking on doors in June. Imagine the porch lectures if voters think council is giving Katz special treatment, not to mention millions in tax dollars.”

5/20: Florence Loyie, Edmonton Journal reports that a public meeting about the proposed downtown arena drew about 150 residents, many of whom raised concerns about the project including traffic and parking problems, increased public inebriation, and the costs to taxpayers.

5/26: Journal Straw Poll “Do you think Daryl Katz's proposal for a downtown arena will be an election issue?” Of course (40%); It should, but it won't be (23%) Nah, there are bigger problems (16%) You mean we'll still be talking about this in October? (21%) There were 2,076 votes.

6/7: Katz Group withdraws zoning application. Says in a press release that a more detailed funding model is needed. (Canada Newswire)

6/8: An unnamed Katz Group source tells the Journal that the zoning request was put off until after the municipal election October 18th. (Elise Stolte)

6/11: “Much talk this week about the Katz Group's decision to delay its rezoning application for a downtown arena. If I'm them, I turtle until after the October civic election. The last thing arena proponents want is their issue front and centre during the fall campaign. Believe me, candidates will get an earful from tax-sensitive voters. For what it's worth, my advice is to rework the plans, come up with a more palatable funding formula and appear before council when the political climate has cooled.” Scott McKeen, Edmonton Journal.

6/19: Andrea Sands and Gordon Kent of the Edmonton Journal reports Northlands has hired Richard Andersen as President and Chief Executive Officer.  Andersen will leave his role as a VP of Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres and as General Manager of that teams Petco Park stadium.

6/25: “Another setback for the arena came this week when council rejected the idea of private negotiations with the Katz Group to push things forward. Council instead invited Katz officials to present their plans in public. Council also asked city staff to research the merits and funding options for a new arena.” Scott McKeen, Edmonton Journal.

6/26: Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal reports Mayor Mandel met with the NHL’s Gary Bettman at the NHL draft in Los Angeles. "We all believe that Edmonton and the Oilers need a new arena and the question is, 'What is the best way to do it?' I think the meeting was very constructive," said Bettman. "We just had a nice discussion about the NHL," said Mandel. "I'd just like to leave it at that.”

6/29: Katz Group spends day denying reports Oilers could move to Hamilton. Rumours triggered by Oilers execs high profile visit to Hamilton during which they made a behind closed doors presentation to that city council about the viability of an NHL franchise in that city. “"I've predicted for years that he'd eventually threaten to move," Brad Humphreys, a professor at the University of Alberta tells the CBC."It would certainly provide him with a little of leverage if he said, 'I'm going to move my franchise, 'cause look, I've already got somewhere to put it.'"

7/3 “Edmonton city councillors aren't jumping to any conclusions after new reports Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz is offering $1 million to lock down NHL rights for a Hamilton arena”, writes Alyssa Noel in the Edmonton Sun.

7/3: Coun Henderson tells the Journal’s Paula Simons, "It's all being played out in headlines & press releases, and that's not building trust." Simons writes, “The problem for Katz and his team is that their PR blunders just keeping piling up. First came the $100 million "misunderstanding" -- the one that saw Katz's original pledge to invest $100 million in a new arena transformed into a vague promise to invest $100 million, over time, in the area around the arena.”

7/6: Councillor Ed Gibbons tells the Journal’s Gordon Kent that estimates prepared for Northlands on the costs to expand and renovate Rexall have been revised and would now come in at about $175 million to $190 million.

7/10: Councillor Don Iveson tells Kevin Libin from the National Post that he's unsure about whether the city can even afford to borrow the $400-million Mr. Katz is apparently seeking as financing for the stadium.

7/14: Katz Group releases a letter dated June 29th, which the Edmonton Journal’s Scott McKeen writes, councillors had not yet seen two weeks later, that puts his $100M contribution for arena construction back on table.

7/15: Gordon Kent reports on councillors’ reaction to Katz’ letter in the Edmonton Journal: “Mayor Stephen Mandel called the letter good news while Coun. Jane Batty said it "does change the playing field." But Coun. Don Iveson said the letter doesn't make much difference to him. "The issue for me has always been whether we should be the bank for this, whether we should own it or finance it," he said, explaining this might put taxpayers at risk and reduce the city's ability to borrow for other work."”

7/21: Journal's McKeen writes the Katz Group’s proposed arena site was ranked 5th and Northlands 1st as recommended sites for a new arena in a consultant's report councillors never saw: “A confidential consultants' report I saw this week ranks four other sites ahead of the Katz holdings along 104th Avenue. Even the Northlands grounds were ranked higher by HOK Sport, an acclaimed sports architecture firm. This news came as no shock to city councillors Tuesday, who seem used to receiving arena updates from unofficial sources, such as the media.”

7/22: In an appearance before council which included Daryl Katz, the Katz Group confirms he’ll commit $100M for arena plus $100M for arena district, but vow the Oilers won't play in Rexall past 2014. Katz Group VP John Karvellas denied this was a threat to move the team. "I will never say such a thing. I will never imply it either ... If that's what's implied with what we have said today, that is not our intention." Gordon Kent and Ryan Cormier, Edmonton Journal.

7/23: “Northlands chairman Andy Huntley says his non-profit society is still interested in operating a downtown arena, even though the Katz Group has indicated it wants to take over that role.” Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal

7/23: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation Scott Hennig explains the CRL in an Edmonton Journal guest column: “Thanks to the CRL, this shift causes a loss in revenue for the city that means property taxes across the city would have to go up to cover the shortfall for core services. It also means that the CRL doesn't produce "free money" at all. It's just a complicated bit of accounting trickery to get taxpayers to unknowingly buy a for-profit company a new building.”

7/27: Ryan Cormier, Edmonton Journal reports city councillors have submitted 140 written questions about the arena proposal to administration. Answers are not expected until after the fall municipal election.

7/28: The Katz Group says they don’t see a role for Northlands in a new arena, leaving some councillors expressing concern about the organization’s future. Christina Emberley of the Edmonton Examiner quotes John Karvellas, "We tried to come to an understanding with them. We didn't. We moved on."

8/19: Edmonton Journal Straw Poll “What do you think is the biggest issue in this fall's Edmonton civic election?” The City Centre Airport (22%); The downtown arena (33%); LRT (10%); Urban sprawl (11%); Potholes (4%); Taxes (14%); Something else entirely (6%) There were 1,413 votes.

8/26: Downtown Business Assoc. surveys downtown residents, find 46% support arena proposal. The Association’s Executive Director notes “since 1997 there have been an "astounding" 43 residential projects in the core, with more coming on stream soon, and that will increase the demand for restaurants and other services.”  (David Finlayson, Edmonton Journal)

9/10: While Prime Minister Harper mused about funding arenas in Quebec, Calgary and Edmonton, the Calgary Herald’s Jason Fekete reports Premier Stelmach’s reaction: “"There won't be any public money going to the arenas. We're trying to catch up with badly needed infrastructure in health and schools.”

9/18: Journal columnist Scott McKeen announces he will be running for City Council in Ward 7. “He voiced his support for a new downtown arena, that is not paid for by existing taxes, and parallels new ideas for the existing Northlands grounds.” (Ryan Cormier, Journal)

9/21: Candidates file their nominations papers at city hall. Terry Demers, seeking a seat in Ward 3, tells the Journal’s Gordon Kent that the airport is by far the most common topic that has come up since she started campaigning in early August. "The only issue I have heard, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times, is the airport. I have heard one person talk about the arena."

9/27: John Geddes writes in Macleans Magazine, “New NHL arenas in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto were built without federal money. Even more telling is the case of Winnipeg, since the Manitoba capital is roughly Quebec City's size. The MTS Centre cost only $133.5 million, with the province, city and federal government together contributing about $40 million, and the rest coming from private investors.” Edmonton’s city manager responds that the federal government’s consideration of Quebec City arena funding request is “framework-changing”.

10/6: Councillor Amarje Sohi tells Ward 12 election forum "downtown arena can be built and should be built, but it does not need any support from taxpayers." (Edmonton Journal, no author cited)

10/13: “The city needs to do a better job of explaining the Katz Group's downtown arena proposal to the public, says Mayor Stephen Mandel. "We haven't really done enough community consultation," Mandel said during an Edmonton Sun/Examiner editorial board meeting.” (byline Examiner News Services)

10/14: Mayoralty candidate David Dorward tells the Journal’s Gordon Kent he wouldn’t be opposed to a plebiscite on a downtown arena but would hope one wouldn’t be necessary because they are expensive when not held in conjunction with an election.

10/15: David Staples writes in the Edmonton Journal, “But a downtown arena district? The Katz Group and city administrators are now hammering out a deal on financing the project. An agreement might well go before council in coming months so that construction can begin by January 2012. But none of the main details have been finalized. Many are of intense public interest.

Sounds like good campaign fodder, but only Scott Hennig, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), has made a big push to get the arena on the election agenda. Hennig sent all candidates a questionnaire about financial accountability, with half of his questions focused on the downtown arena. Only five incumbents answered Hennig. All of them said they didn't get or wouldn't take any campaign money for this election from the Katz Group.

The Katz Group made a smart strategic decision early last summer, Hennig says, to delay trying to bring forward an arena deal with city council until after this election. "They could see this was going to become an election issue, and they didn't really want this to become an election issue because they could see the (anti-downtown arena) polling on it."

Only two incumbent councillors, Don Iveson and Tony Caterina, told the CTF they would stand against any public funding, including a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL), for a new arena.”


10/18: Election day.

10/19: Reporting on Amarjeet Sohi’s re-election, Darcy Henton of the Journal, “Sohi, a former city bus driver who took public transit to work at City Hall during his first term on council, was one of only two councillors who voted against the behind-closed-doors sale of Epcor assets. He has been a big booster of the city's Expo 2017 bid and he has said publicly he doesn't believe taxpayers' money should be used to fund a new downtown hockey arena for the Edmonton Oilers.”

10/19: Re-elected Councillor Tony Caterina tells the Edmonton Examiner that any new taxpayer funded arena should be put to a plebiscite. “"The biggest concern was actually the arena issue, and the many concerns people expressing about not knowing what's going to happen."  (byline QMI agency)

10/23: City announces arena open houses and discussion groups, along with an online presentation and survey. Cost: $150K (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

11/2: David McCalla of Miller Thomson LLP writes to local realtor Gord Stamp, “We are solicitors for Mayor Stephen Mandel.” McCalla advises Stamp that they intend to bring action for damages arising out of an election pamphlet Stamp distributed. It was about the proposed downtown arena and was entitled, “Mayor Stephen Mandel – Manipulating the process from the very beginning.” The lawyer claims the pamphlet was defamatory and demands an apology. (view the PDF of the letter here.)

11/11: First public consultation on downtown arena draws about 50 people the first night, less (?) the second (Conal Pierse, Edmonton Journal)

11/12: Ian O’Donnell of the Downtown Edmonton Community League tells the Journal’s David Staples that they have serious misgivings about the pedway planned to go over 104 Avenue as it isn’t pedestrian friendly.

11/13: 18,000 people have responded to the online questionnaire about the proposed downtown arena district, 240 people have attended 3 in-person information sessions on the arena project. There are two more public sessions left. The online survey will be available until Nov. 19.  (Anonymous, Edmonton Journal)

11/19: Demon dialer with Oilers president and CEO Patrick LaForge went out to 350,00 Edmonton area numbers, urging supporters of the downtown arena to fill out a City of Edmonton survey about the project. Respondents were told to press 1 if they support a new downtown arena or 2 if they do not. "All of the people who pressed 1 got a call back (Wednesday) that said, 'You've pressed 1, so now you should go to the website and fill out the questionnaire or call 311 if you don't have a computer,” said an Oilers spokesperson.  (Andrea Sands, Edmonton Journal)

11/20: Mary Pat Barry, manager of corporate communications for the City of Edmonton, tells the Journal’s Paula Simons that she “has no concerns about the Oilers' effort to tilt the results of the city questionnaire. "Anything that encourages people to express an opinion is something we appreciate," she says. The questionnaire, she says, was never designed to be a statistically valid opinion poll.”

11/30: Gordon Stamp is sent a letter from Miller Thomson which reads, “Notwithstanding the above matters we are instructed not to commence court proceedings on behalf of Mr. Mandel at this time.” (view the PDF of the letter here.)

12/1: Canadian Press reports Oilers in Quebec talking arenas. LaForge says, "We are not planning to move the Oilers at this time.” Local media speculate and counter speculate for days.

12/4: Councillors receive answers to 140 arena questions and, in a report to city councillors released Friday, the Katz Group said it won’t be opening up its books but "should be able to satisfy city administration" in private that the Edmonton Oilers don't earn enough money to move ahead with the project alone. (Andrea Sands, Edmonton Journal)

12/7: Journal’s Gordon Kent reports that player agent Ritch Winter and partners want the city to use a "sports mortgage" that could fund a downtown arena without tax dollars or $100 million promised by the Katz Group. In a written statement, the Katz Groups says they are not interested.

12/8 The Edmonton Examiner’s Scott Haskins compares Daryl Katz to Peter Pocklington, unfavourably, “At least Puck put his cards on the table. It's impossible to know what game Mr. Katz is even playing. “

12/11: Northlands vows to keep Rexall open. Although studies show having two facilities of similar size isn't feasible in Edmonton, Northlands needs the $6.2 million it earned last year from non-hockey events at Rexall Place and will protect its business, CEO Richard Andersen told City Council.Mayor responds “There won't be two arenas, regardless.” (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

12/15: Ex-Oiler, Deputy federal Green Party Leader Georges Laraque offers $100K for arena if city will move Lucy the Elephant to a warmer home. He tells CBC News, “"I just want to help. This situation is making Edmonton look bad and Edmonton is my home. This is where I live and I want the situation to stop."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Arena Open Letter

The following is my open letter to the Edmonton City council, concerning the proposed downtown arena plan. The email addresses this was sent to (feel free to copy and paste these in to your email, should you also choose to send one) are as follows:

linda.sloan@edmonton.ca; kim.krushell@edmonton.ca; dave.loken@edmonton.ca; ed.gibbons@edmonton.ca; karen.leibovici@edmonton.ca; jane.batty@edmonton.ca; tony.caterina@edmonton.ca; ben.henderson@edmonton.ca; bryan.anderson@edmonton.ca; don.iveson@edmonton.ca; kerry.diotte@edmonton.ca; amarjeet.sohi@edmonton.ca; Stephen.Mandel@edmonton.ca
With All Due Respect

I am curious on what to make of this arena deal. It seems there were several past statements by council members implying there would be no tax dollars involved with this, and since this is such a big deal the citizens should have a plebiscite on it. The following is a minor sample of some things said:

2007-Feb-22 HOK Report says Rexall renovation to current NHL standard would cost $225-250M. Mayor Mandel tells the Journal’s Bill Mah, “"I think there's many ways to look at how we can do this. I've several ideas but I don't want to talk about them yet until we get a little further down the road, but we're not going to burden our taxpayers with a $400-million or $300-million debt to have a new facility. That just won't happen."
2007-Dec-14: Counilor Kim Krushell tells the Edmonton Journal’s Susan Ruttan that she’ll call for a plebiscite if arena involves large amount of tax money.
2008-Feb-7: Mayor advises reporters that the Arena Task Force report, originally expected in early January, would be delayed until about a week after the provincial election. Edmonton Journal’s Susan Ruttan writes, “Mandel again emphasized that no property tax dollars or grant money will go toward a new arena...Premier Ed Stelmach has also declined to fund a new Edmonton arena.”
 2008-Mar-26: The Premier reiterates he has no intention of funding an arena. "We haven't seen any facts or figures .... but the premier has maintained and continues to maintain that this is an inappropriate use of tax money, that provincial taxpayer dollars will not go towards a professional sporting arena," Premier’s Office spokesperson Tom Olsen told Jason Markusoff of the Edmonton Journal.
 2008-Aug-20: Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Global Edmonton asks, “The City should provide taxpayer's money for a new Hockey Arena.” Result: Three quarters (76%) of Edmontonians 'disagree' (46% strongly/31% somewhat).
 2009-Sep-2: Edmonton Journal Straw Poll: “How much taxpayers' money should go toward the Oilers' downtown arena?”  Not one red cent. (58%) A decent portion. (8%) Whatever it takes on top of Katz's $100M. (10%) Hard to say without more details. (21%) I'll pay anything not to hear about it anymore. (3%)  There were 1,431 votes.
 I am also curious how a $100 million dollar contribution went from leading people to believe it would be up front, only to find out it's something we have to borrow that will be paid back over time. Rather sweet it also just happened to turn into a tax break for Katz.

Curiosity is still on my mind when I think of the New York City meeting. It seems like the framework got changed without permission? Little slight of hand I think, and quite possibly the MGA might need to be reviewed to see just how legal that deal was. Now who is that Minister with the Alberta Government... :)

How is it that the originally defined "ticket tax" has mysteriously changed into a 'levy'... one that Katz now insists is his money, but the Mayor has turned red in the face saying it is not. I kinda think it is... and that sucks a lot. Not only that, but to add insult to injury... in the premise of being "fair", you now want to impose a ticket TAX on Rexall to make the playing field level. Really? Level? See, in this deal the City gets that tax, and applies it to the downtown arena. Forcing Rexall clients to subsidize the new place. You know.. the one where Katz gets to keep the 'levy' for ever and ever?

I could go on for a good hour with things that make THIS deal just so wrong. Clearly every penny will be borrowed, Katz will end up paying nothing (thanks to the generous advertising allowance granted) and collecting all of the income. Yeah, he pays costs. Big deal. It's a new place, under warranty... and the killer of the framework is it is only good "for as long as Katz owns the team". Which I just bet he will sell in 5 or 7 years, taking the profits, and leaving us holding the bag.

And if I may... getting back to this "no tax increase" thing. Would you please explain how the CRL can take the educational component of tax dollars normally directed to the province... and this will not result in tax increases for all Albertans to make up for the loss? And those new folks that are in or will move into that CRL zone... how is it that you can provide full services to them, when their tax dollars (or increase in tax dollars) does not go towards paying for those services like everyone else does? This can only mean every Edmonton tax payer will have to face an increase to cover this loss. So... how is any of this NOT a tax increase?

Isn't it time you folks got over the hype, and created a deal that works... instead of one that gives away the house. And if you can't make a deal, then "oh well". It is what it is. I doubt we would lose the Oilers over it, there ARE other solutions. The problem is Katz just doesn't want any of them because he won't make as much money. And I am again curious... why is that a taxpayer problem?


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Arena Timeline 2008-2009

The following information is presented by Mimi Williams aka @willmimi on twitter. This is the second part of what appears will be a 3 part series. A huge effort has been made to compile this, and the work presented is copyright by the author.

Part 1 (you can read it here) deals with the 2005 to 2007 time period. Part 2 handles the 2008 to 2009 period, leaving Part 3 (you can read it here) covering 2010 and Part 4  to cover 2011. Please enjoy the read, and remember to thank Mimi for her extensive work.

Edmonton’s Downtown Arena – All the News that was Fit to Print (Part 2)


1/2: Bill Butler, new chairman of the Oilers investors group, says they've been advised by lawyers not to accept Katz's offer of $188 million. Jim MacDonald of the Canadian Press reported that Daryl Katz responded “late Wednesday with a fiery one-page statement denouncing Butler's comments and questioning whether the owners were acting in the best interests of the team.”

1/10: John MacKinnon, Edmonton Journal, reports that Wayne Gretzky supports Daryl Katz’ bid for the Oilers: “"He'll be a great owner here," Grezky said Wednesday about Katz, whose most recent offer to buy all of the EIG shares amounts to a $188-million asset purchase. "He's an Edmontonian, he lives here, he thrives on being in the city, he's proud of being here."”

1/21: Scott McKeen writes in the Edmonton Journal, “I think Edmontonians won't hear a peep about a downtown arena until after the provincial election. The feasibility study must still be completed. But the thing will be kept under wraps until after the next government is elected. The last thing arena proponents want is for their plans to become part of the campaign discussion. Candidates and party leaders could get boxed in by the debate to the point of making promises to oppose public funding of a new arena.”

2/6: Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail reports the Oilers owners have accepted Daryl Katz’ latest offer of $200-million for the team and a $100 million commitment to building a new arena in downtown Edmonton.

2/7: Mayor advises reporters that the Arena Task Force report, originally expected in early January, would be delayed until about a week after the provincial election. Edmonton Journal’s Susan Ruttan writes, “Mandel again emphasized that no property tax dollars or grant money will go toward a new arena...Premier Ed Stelmach has also declined to fund a new Edmonton arena.”

2/10: Journal’s Susan Ruttan reports on Mayor’s 90-day Plan, announced after his re-election. “The first report, on building a new arena to replace Rexall Place, has been delayed until March, the week after the provincial election. One delaying factor may be Premier Ed Stelmach's flat refusal to pay for such an arena.”

2/12: Urban affair professor Mark Rosentraub tells the Journal’s Dan Barnes a downtown arena could be beneficial for Edmonton. ““Rosentraub said he won't be advocating the City of Edmonton taxpayers shell out. "We're not talking about cities subsidizing these developments." When it's done right, a corporation buys the naming rights and the building owner partners with other moneyed corporations to finance much of the project. Mayor Stephen Mandel has said many times that city property taxes and grants won't be used..... The long-awaited feasibility report will no doubt present more financing options, as well as a handful of downtown locations.”

2/13: The Journal’s Susan Ruttan reports on remarks made by UA Prof. Brad Humphreys, a sports economist who moved to the University of Alberta last fall. He testified before the U. S. Congress on the subject of public subsidies for sports facilities and feels that arenas don’t produce jobs or boost the economy but might increase civic pride. “New arenas may attract bars and restaurants around them, he said, but their customers would otherwise have been in bars and restaurants in other parts of town. So, no new economic activity is generated, he said.”

2/15: ‘Edmontonians Against Public Money for the Downtown Oilerplex’ facebook page launched.

3/2: “No person or company will ever move to Edmonton instead of Winnipeg because there is an NHL team here,” UofA Professor Dan Mason tells the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples. He adds that it’s widely accepted among economists that money not spent on the Oilers would be spent elsewhere in the city. "For example, the discourse in Edmonton right now around a new arena in the downtown, it doesn't talk about economic benefits because people generally have a feeling that that's not an argument anymore."

3/15: Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal, reports that the city auditor advised council “More than half of Edmonton's city-owned buildings are in fair to unacceptable condition and the structures need $44 million worth of roof and other major repairs.” Land and buildings manager Rick Daviss tells Kent that maintenance isn’t as “sexy” as the “fresh, new projects” that everybody’s looking for.

3/24 Arena Feasibility Committee Chair Lyle Best tells CTV News that his committee will recommend that an arena will be built downtown. “ You're not going to hear a design because that wasn't our mandate. And you're not going to hear a location, because obviously the next step is whoever is going to build this is going to make some considerations about where they're going to have it,'' he told the station. (Canadian Press)

3/25: Arena Committee Report recommends downtown arena, with all 3 levels of gov't contributing to $450M cost. Susan Ruttan of the Edmonton Journal quotes the report, "It is highly probable that an Edmonton project will require contributions from all orders of government in order for it be economically viable."

3/26: The Premier reiterates he has no intention of funding an arena. "We haven't seen any facts or figures .... but the premier has maintained and continues to maintain that this is an inappropriate use of tax money, that provincial taxpayer dollars will not go towards a professional sporting arena," Premier’s Office spokesperson Tom Olsen told Jason Markusoff of the Edmonton Journal.

3/27: Journal’s Simons writes “fix was in” with committee, predicts taxpayers will be left holding bag. “What is shocking, though, is the utter vacuousness of the so-called "feasibility study" released with such fanfare this week. This study was 11 months in the making. It cost $250,000 -- a bill split three ways between the taxpayers of Edmonton, the Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Northlands. But the document unveiled Tuesday morning is long on cheerleading rhetoric and all but devoid of substantive content.”

3/27: Journal Straw Poll “What's your reaction to the report recommending a new downtown arena?” Finally, let's get on with it. (44%) This is going to cost us for sure. (13%) Why can't we put our energies into something important? (43%) There were 2,199 votes.

3/29: Councillors Sohi & Caterina complain to the Edmonton Journal’s Mike Sadava they can’t see arena economic analysis reports partially paid for by city. “"We were told as a council we couldn't be trusted to see those," said Councillor Caterina.

4/2: Kevin Libin of the National Post writes that the Arena Feasibility Committee’s claim that a new arena will "draw millions to the city annually from far and wide" is “contradicted by economic data spanning three decades, typically showing zero tangible benefits to the local economy” according to the University of Alberta’s Brad Humphreys. Humphreys points to “academic studies show that local news organizations, which sell a lot of papers from sports coverage, consistently line up behind new-arena plans. "The media coverage is uniformly favourable, no matter what the terms of the deal."”

4/5: Mike Sadava of the Edmonton Journal recalls how Peter Pocklington wrestled $15million (for Coliseum renovations and to build a ball park) out of city council in 1994 when he threatened to move the team, despite the fact that 80% of callers to the Citizens Action Centre opposed the deal.

4/19: Dr. Brad Humphreys tells the Edmonton Journal’s Susan Ruttan that Edmontonians should brace themselves for an arena sales pitch. “Edmontonians will be told the arena will be an engine of economic growth, he said, and that it will ensure Edmonton's place as a world-class city.” He added, however, "World-class city status does not get conferred by a shiny new National Hockey League arena."

5/7: In a mid-term report card on city council, the Journal’s Scott McKeen observes that the Mayor’s “downtown arena proposal isn't exactly popular.”

7/20: David Staples of the Edmonton Journal reports a UofA Pop Research Lab survey asked if people wanted to use municipal funds to build a downtown arena: 17% strongly supported the idea, 31% supported it somewhat, 50 per cent were against it, with the remaining two per cent not answering or not sure. "You can say with a great deal of certainty that it wouldn't pass a referendum," University of Alberta sports business professor Dan Mason, who co-authored the study, tells Staples.

8/10: Through an access-to-information request, Cdn Taxpayers Federation finds that earlier drafts of the arena committee report draft mentioned TO, VCR, OTT & MTL arenas built with private funds, information omitted from the final report. "Clearly the mayor's committee believed that the fact that all of the new NHL arenas in Canada were built without any tax dollars hurt their case that Edmonton needs taxpayers to help foot this bill," the CTF’s Scott Hennig told the Edmonton Journal’s Lorne Gunter.

8/14: Councillor Tony Caterina tells the Edmonton Examiner’s Joelle Tomek it makes no sens to move the arena from it’s current site: “Everything is there. All the infrastructure’s in place, LRT is right there, the Yellowhead is there, Wayne Gretzky (Drive) is there, parking is there.”

11/14: Economic downturn plus financial uncertainty created by arena talks forces city to guarantee $60M loan for Northlands expansion project, the Journal’s Gordon Kent reports. He quotes a letter from Northlands vice-president Mark Bamford which explains, "given what has transpired in the financial markets the last few months combined with the ongoing discussions around a new arena in downtown Edmonton and how this might affect Northlands financially."

11/25: Architect Gene Dub proposes a $300M arena be built south of police headquarters. He tells the Journal’s Gordon Kent he wants to build it in “copper above the street with the rink on the third level, leaving a space underneath where traffic and pedestrians can pass through and shop during the summer.”

11/26: Councillors tell the Journal’s Jamie Hall that Dub’s proposal is “interesting.” "I'm not sure we were the audience for it, though," Councillor Iveson told her. "I think ultimately the decision to build another rink anywhere is first a question for whatever private entities might want to assemble the rink and pay for it. Certainly, I've been clear that that shouldn't be the city."

12/13 The Mayor tells the Journal’s Gordon Kent that officials from the city, Northlands and Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz's company have been talking "quietly" about the next steps to take on arena. A proposal might be made public as early as March, the Mayor said, without releasing any details.

12/15: Scott McKeen of the Journal reports that the Mayor says that Northlands and the Katz Group have been meeting quietly on the arena project and that costs have been reduced significantly. “"We estimate the cost of the arena to now be substantially under $400 million -- substantially," the is quoted.

12/17: NHL’s Gary Bettman tells a Chamber of Commerce luncheon the Oilers need new arena. Journal’s Dan Barnes dubs his speech a “political drive-by, a financial hit-and-run.” Barnes noted that the luncheon was hosted by CofC Chair Patrick LaForge who “doubles” as president of the Edmonton Oilers.


3/7: Cal Nichols steps aside as chair of the Edmonton Oilers to focus his energy on saving the city centre airport. The Edmonton Journal’s Scott McKeen wrotes that there was concern that his work on that issue might bleed over into the downtown arena issue, “As one councillor put it to me Friday: "If he (Nichols) and the Oilers can afford private planes, they can afford to build their own arena."

5/6: Mayor Mandel tells a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that he expect downtown arena discussions to resume soon. (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

5/7: Northlands Chair says they’re keen to work with Katz Group on arena. Northlands Chair Andy Huntley tells the Journal’s Gary Lamphier, “"Given our experience and history, we're really confident we'll have a role. Northlands clearly has the core competency."

8/20: Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Global Edmonton asks, “The City should provide taxpayer's money for a new Hockey Arena.” Result: Three quarters (76%) of Edmontonians 'disagree' (46% strongly/31% somewhat).

8/28: Citing unnamed sources close to the Katz Group, the Edmonton Journal’s Gordon Kent & Gary Lamphier report Katz is about to announce a $1B project that will include an arena, a practice rink and student housing, towards which he is willing to invest $100M. Bryan Anderson responds: “I don’t think there’s an appetite on council for the involvement of a whole bunch of municipal dollars.”

8/29: Again citing an unnamed source, the Journal’s Richard Warnica writes, “The source said the new 18,000-to 20,000-seat arena would be part of a $1 billion-plus project that would include a second rink and drive related casino, hotel, condo, retail, student housing and office developments.”

8/31: The popular hockey blog “Battle of Alberta” begins an ongoing Downtown Arena Primer which can still be found here: http://battleofalberta.blogspot.com/2009/08/downtown-arena-primer.html

9/1: Patrick LaForge holds a news conference to announce the Katz Group has reached deals for the Baccarat Casino site and the block east of the Greyhound bus station. (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

9/1: Edmonton Journal Straw Poll: “What do you think of the ambitious arena project Oilers owner Daryl Katz seems to have in the works?” Great plan, let's do it! (43%) Downtown is no place for an arena.(14%) It's too early to say. (6%) I don't care as long as he spends his own money. (37%) There were 2,705 votes.

9/2: “Katz and company must also come forward with hat in hand. They must not patronize us with wildly inflated estimates of the Oilers' economic impact. The Oilers pay about $50 million annually to migrant workers, who flee town after the season ends.” Scott McKeen, Edmonton Journal.

9/2: Edmonton Journal Straw Poll: “How much taxpayers' money should go toward the Oilers' downtown arena?”  Not one red cent. (58%) A decent portion. (8%) Whatever it takes on top of Katz's $100M. (10%) Hard to say without more details. (21%) I'll pay anything not to hear about it anymore. (3%)  There were 1,431 votes.

9/4: Premier Stelmach tells the Calgary Herald’s Tamara Gignac Albertans will not be paying for any portion of an NHL rink in Calgary or Edmonton. "It's very clear:we're not putting money into arenas."

9/4: Gordon Kent of the Edmonton Journal reports that Rexall Place has been ranked 10th in the world for concert and event ticket sales among arenas with more than 15,000 seats, 2nd in Canada by Venues Today, a trade magazine.

9/6: Patrick LaForge tells the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples that the Katz Group is looking at casino funding to help fund the arena. The CTF’s Scott Hennig disagrees, “"You'd end up seeing other charities, more legitimate charities, losing out on funding because of it."

9/12: Pat LaForge s Oilers “lost quite a bit of money last year” and Katz Group will need all arena revenues, report the Journal’s David Staples and Gary Lamphier. “"We're interested in being the best in the world. I'm not trying to poke Northlands in the eye here. ... Northlands has done a good job so far. Nobody would have an issue with that. (But) the new world is big operators like AEG, Live Nation and the like. They are creating a new world of preferred outlets that they bring their best Triple-A entertainment to, and we want our place to be one of those stops, and want them probably to be one of our partners."

9/15: Journal’s Paula Simons questions arena location: “The arena's proponents would like to present their bold plan as a fait accompli. But this project will have a radical impact on the shape of our downtown. No matter who pays for the arena, or who profits from it, we citizens should--and do--have the right to decide if this is indeed an appropriate site for this urban megaproject. Just because this particular property deal suits the financial interests of those who are buying the land and those who are selling it doesn't make it good urban planning, or good for the rest of us.”

9/20: Patrick LaForge tells the Journal’s David Staples that the Katz Group is in the process of hiring “starchitect” to design arena. "Visually, it needs to be an icon," LaForge says of the arena. "If you look at certain cities, the arch in St. Louis is a signature piece, the CN Tower is a signature piece in Toronto. My hope is, and for our group is, that architecturally we can come to the table with something like that.”

9/23: Northlands Chair Andy Huntley tells the Journal’s David Staples there’s no way the Katz Group can build an arena without public support. "When it starts to get over $400 million, there will have to be in some form or fashion public support, likely from two orders or more of government to get this accomplished."

9/26: Journal’s Gary Lamphier questions why no private developers/partners have stepped forward. “why has no hotel chain, no casino operator, no condo builder or commercial developer proclaimed his or her support for the project, even in principle?” Proposes that no CRL be approved unless adjacent private development is confirmed.

9/29: Gary Lamphier of the Journal reports his 9/26 column drew a “cranky response” from the Katz Group. An unnamed spokesperson is quoted, “"Daryl has had discussions with (private arena operators) AEG, Delaware North and others about their potential participation, and those discussions are also ongoing. A number of architects have been interviewed, but a selection has not been made. And Daryl has spent many millions of dollars to get the project this far with no assurance of anything from anyone."

 10/7: Journal’s Scott McKeen calls Katz invitation to councillors for secret meeting sign of “bungling”. He writes, “Others in the civic administration pointed out potential legal issues with the invitation. Councillors risk violating municipal regulations if more than six of them meet in secret. City solicitor Anne Jarman, in an e-mail to councillors, warned them of the risk and also suggested that if they were to attend individually, they should decline the Katz Group's offer of a free lunch, presumably because no such thing exists.”

 10/9: John MacKinnon, of the Edmonton Journal, “Some already have a perception that Katz is looking for a public handout to build a fancy new home for the Edmonton Oilers. End of story. Katz will have to override that perception for this project to proceed smoothly.”

10/24: “On a project this complex, this crucial to the future of the city, it would be helpful for the Oilers to swagger a little less, to share a little more, to collaborate much more with city councillors, on and on.” John MacKinnon, Edmonton Journal.

11/2: Edmonton Journal reports that Daryl Katz and Peter Elzinga met with Education Minister David Hancock at the legislature. “Hancock said he believes Elzinga is working for the Katz Group, but didn't know if he was listed in the province's new lobbyist registry.” (no byline)

11/4: “After neglecting city hall for months, then botching a meeting with councillors -- inadvertently asking them to an illicit gathering --Katz now seems to be listening and learning. For the past couple of weeks he has been sneaking into City Hall for secret meetings with councillors. Katz probably viewed the visits as courtesy calls, or missions of diplomacy. Instead, they ended up as educational field trips on the realities of civic politics and red tape. "It's completely new territory for him," one participant told me. Katz, he said, is used to snapping his fingers and getting things done. "So he's trying to make things happen through the sheer force of his energy and will." Scott McKeen, Edmonton Journal.

11/7: Katz Group hires former Deputy Premier Peter Elzinga and Joan Forge, who ran communications for Premier Ed Stelmach's party leadership campaign in 2006, to lobby province. (Archie McLean, Edmonton Journal)

11/12: Forbes Magazine reports Oilers posted a $9.4M operating profit for the 2008-9 season; LaForge tells the Journal’s Gary Lamphier that Forbes numbers were “speculative”, that they had “break-even year”. Lamphier also notes “Meanwhile, the Oilers'debt load--which stood at zero before the club was acquired by Katz in 2008 for $200 million--has jumped to 60 per cent of the club's current franchise value, or about $100 million, Forbes says.”

11/22: Brad Humphreys of the UofA tells David Staples of the Edmonton Journal there are little economic spinoffs in building professional sports facilities. "What I found was that there is no evidence that the presence of a professional sports franchise, or the presence of an arena or stadium, had any positive impact on local income or local employment." The Oilers Patrick LaFarge responded, "To a large degree, it's people with Humphrey's view that prevents us from building the next Eiffel Tower, the next Peace Arch, the next CN Tower, because people who think like him can't find the economic rationalization to do it.”
11/25: Councillor Bryan Anderson tells the Gateway’s Antony Ta, “I don’t know if there’s enough support on city council to contribute public funds to a downtown arena. No city in its right mind can operate two large venues like Rexall Place and a downtown arena at the same time — they would both go broke.”

12/3: CBC News reports the Katz Group has hired international firm AEG to help with the arena development. "AEG is a world leader in sports and entertainment developments, especially as related to urban revitalization projects," said Patrick LaForge, president of the Oilers.

12/4: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples writes that the Katz Group has hired AEG to “get into feasibility studies, working with the city and with the master architect. The Katz Group is close to hiring one. "We're at the place were we are negotiating with our first choice (architect) on the deal," LaForge said. "The next move is to wrap up the master architect and then we've got the two key pieces moving together.””

12/7: Canadian Business Magazine names Daryl Katz as 17th on its annual 100 Richest Canadians list. They say he’s worth $2.36B.

12/13: Former Oilers owners group member Cal Nichols tells David Staples of the Edmonton Journal that without a new arena the future of the Oilers franchise will not be secure.

12/17: Citing “confidential numbers” among the info provided by Katz Group along with public information, Economic Development Edmonton tells the Journal’s Gordon Kent the arena could generate $1.25B in wages.

Arena Timeline 2005-2007

The following information is presented by Mimi Williams aka @willmimi on twitter. This is the first part of a 4 part series. A huge effort has been made to compile this, and the work presented is copyright by the author.

Part 1 deals with the 2005 to 2007 time period. Part 2 (you can read it here) will handle the 2008 to 2009 period, leaving Part 3 (you can read it here) covering 2010, and Part 4 (link to 2011 time). Please enjoy the read, and remember to thank Mimi for her extensive work.

Edmonton’s Downtown Arena – All the News that was Fit to Print


10/2: With the NHL lockout history, Journal’s David Staples reports that Cal Nichols, member of the Oilers-owning Edmonton Investors’ Group has a new goal: to build a new arena.

10/3: Journal reports U of A’s Dan Mason says Canadians have little appetite to publicly fund NHL arenas; Mayor Mandel suggests a lottery might be way to fund.

12/5 Oilers Patrick LaForge tells Journal’s Shawn Ohler that the fact they sold out all 66 skyboxes (some for as high as $200,000/yr) is further evidence the team needs a new rink.


1/7: Journal’s MacKinnon muses about downtown arena, “That's not to disrespect sturdy, serviceable Rexall Place,” he writes.

1/7: Journal’s Lamphier writes that the city should “build a sparkling new downtown arena to house the Oilers,” locate it immediately east of the arts district and link it by pedway to Shaw Convention Centre.

1/12: 61% of Journal readers participating in Straw Poll think Lamphier and MacKinnon’s suggestions for downtown arena is evidence the men have had “one too many pucks to the head.” 

3/28: Journal’s Gary Lamphier writes “If downtown is going to make a go of it, Edmonton needs a splashy new arena -- preferably east of the city centre, near the Shaw Conference Centre.”

5/24: "This is the best building, the best city to play in," Oilers defenceman Steve Staios tells Jim Macdonald of the Canadian Press during the Oilers’ first serious playoff run in 14 years.

5/27 Postmedia’s Cam Cole reports Oilers “owners are quietly laying the political groundwork for a new, downtown building to replace their 32-year-old arena.”

9/14: Journal’s Paula Simons reports “anonymous backers” float idea for new arena on Canada Post site

11/14: Michael Phair, one of two councillors representing downtown, tells VUE Weekly’s Ross Moroz he has reservations about the arena plan. “At this time I would say that in my mind there are a lot of unanswered questions,” said Phair. “In my experience, buildings like this are dark during the day and on many evenings, plus they tend to be very sterile buildings, so they don’t bring a whole lot of life into the neighbourhood most of the time.” Phair told Moroz he expected “enthusiasm to die down once citizens realize that they will probably end up footing much of the bill for the project.”

11/16: Journal polls readers on downtown arena: 52% say “Great idea.” 48% say “Bad idea.”

12/22: Mayor Mandel on $1B downtown arena proposal: “We need to be creative and not burden the taxpayers.”

12/23: Journal editorial: “Mandel and city council need to answer two key questions before pressing forward: Is an arena, which costs about $300 million to $400 million, the best tool for stimulating urban renewal? And are the economic and social benefits sufficient to justify the spending of public funds on the project?”
Daryl Katz appears as #16 on the list of Canadian’s Wealthiest 100 People. (Canadian Business Magazine, Winter 2006/2007)


1/02:“The former CN Station Lands, north of City Hall, still sit vacant, despite a lot of public wishful thinking about a new hockey arena on the site.” Journal’s Paula Simons.

1/05 Colby Cosh, National Post writes, “It's sports fans, above all, who are familiar with the system of semi- blackmail and bogus economics that has fed the current North American mania for stadium construction; who remember how Edmontonians were terrorized in the 1990s into lowering the Oilers' rent to $1 a year; and who recall that Edmonton built a new ballpark in 1995 that was promptly abandoned in mid-lease by its Triple-A tenant.”

1/13: Awaiting Coliseum renovation cost report, Mayor Mandel tells the Journal’s Ron Chalmers, “It always has been my hope that we will have a downtown arena” "I think, in the end, the city would play a role," and "I think Northlands would be an integral partner." 

1/19: Oilers Pres Patrick LaFarge tells Globe & Mail the team is excited by talk of a “new downtown arena megapalace”; declares current barn “tired”. (article ran with Canadian Press byline)

2/22 HOK Report says Rexall renovation to current NHL standard would cost $225-250M. Mayor Mandel tells the Journal’s Bill Mah, “"I think there's many ways to look at how we can do this. I've several ideas but I don't want to talk about them yet until we get a little further down the road, but we're not going to burden our taxpayers with a $400-million or $300-million debt to have a new facility. That just won't happen." 

2/23: Mayor says a committee should look at new arena, evaluate locations. Tells the Journal’s Gordon Kent that a decision could be made by summer and the building completed within 3 to 4 years.

2/23: Journal’s Dan Barnes reports the Northlands HOK report was released to city council and “met with predictable negative reaction.” Northlands Chair tells Barnes they would like to be involved in any new building.

2/24: Journal editorial “If the principal goal of building a new arena is to create more boxes and high-value seats for the Oilers, why is this a question for taxpayers? Canada's three eastern NHL teams have each built new arenas in the past two decades and they were almost entirely paid for by investors. Why in conservative, wealthy, booming Alberta would we look to governments for anything more than construction permits?”

2/24: Journal Straw Poll (1,492 votes) Where do you stand on the Edmonton arena question? Renovate Rexall (17%) Build a new arena downtown (47%) Don't do anything, Rexall is fine (36%)

2/27: In a tongue-in-cheek fashion, Ricardo Acuno writes in VUE Weekly about his enthusiastic support for a publicly-funded downtown arena, “Here in Alberta we believe strongly that government has an active role to play in the economy and the business world—and when private for-profit businesses come looking for taxpayer dollars, we are happy to hand them out.”

3/9: Northlands Acting President Jerry Bouma tells the Journal’s Gordon Kent that an committee might take up to a year to make a recommendation, despite the Mayor’s hopes it will be done by July.

4/7: Participants in the annual inner city “Good Friday Outdoor Way of the Cross” walk tell the Journal’s Alexandra Zabjek they fear a new arena and other planned redevelopment will displace the poor living in the city’s core.

4/22: After placing a full page newspaper ad apologizing for the team’s miserable performance, Oilers’ owners group Cal Nichols tells the Journal’s Andrea Sands that if plans for a new downtown arena were to go ahead, it could help Oilers managers attract star talent and free agents.

4/23: Edmonton Journal’s John MacKinnon writes, “Meanwhile, downtown Edmonton continues to evolve and mature, becoming more and more vibrant each year. Something resembling momentum is building, momentum that may or may not include a downtown arena. My bias on that one is clear -- I own a downtown condo. A press box within walking distance would mean wonderful things for my working life and my portfolio.” 

4/24: Journal’s Gary Lamphier predicts arena proposal will attract “plenty of banks, private equity pools & major pension funds" looking to invest.  Reports that Canada Western Bank’s Larry Pollock and Angus Watt of National Bank Financial both say there would be plenty of options for financing such a facility. And if the province threw its support and blue-chip credit rating behind the project, it would be a slam dunk.

4/25: Mayor Mandel strikes Arena Feasibility Committee. Tells the Journal’s Jim Farrell, "I have got some ideas how it can be financed that wouldn't require any city money, and I think it can be done creatively, with limited amounts of public dollars, but to say no tax dollars -- that would be irresponsible."

4/26: Journal’s Paula Simons on why she’s not yet sold on the idea of a downtown arena, “I've lived and worked and visited in cities with downtown arenas. And in my experience, they effectively sterilized and depopulated the area for blocks around them. It was great when there was a game or a concert. And the rest of the time, the neighbourhood was dead.” 

4/27: Journal editorial: “If Mandel believes wholeheartedly, he should make it the cornerstone of his re-election platform -- a vote for Mandel is a vote for a downtown arena that includes however many millions of public dollars. Or, if he thinks such political linkage is a little on the risky side, he could consult the community through a genuine referendum question on the municipal ballot.” 

5/1: Paula Simons reports on the response she got from her 4/26 Journal column: “In this hockey-mad town, expressing the slightest doubt about the wonders of a new half-a-billion-dollar downtown arena is obviously an act of black heresy. To judge by the righteous indignation, I've clearly committed an unspeakable blasphemy. Seems I'm a whining, ignorant elitist, a small-town thinker, an idiot, the kind of person who's wrecking this city.”

5/5: In surprise bid, local billionaire Daryl Katz offers $145M to buy Oilers from struggling Edmonton Investors Group. A source tells the Edmonton Journal’s Gary Lamphier Katz “"understands" that a new downtown arena funded strictly by the taxpayer is a non-starter and his participation in fundraising may be necessary."I think he would be prepared, under the right circumstances, to take his share of funding for something like that," the source said.” 

5/6: The EIG advises Katz the Oilers are not for sale. (John MacKinnon, Edmonton Journal).

6/2: Journal/Leger Marketing poll re: downtown arena indicates 56% Edmontonians opposed, 67% opposed if tax dollars used. Mayor Mandel tells the Journal’s Mike Sadava that the poll is premature, "I want to be very clear that this is a project that has to stand on its own. The citizens of Edmonton are not going to sacrifice a road, an overpass or a rec centre or anything like that to build a hockey arena. We have to come up with a creative way to do it." According to Sadava, “Mandel said that includes not only property taxes, but infrastructure money from other levels of government.” 

7/21: "There's pretty much a consensus among economists and sociologists that these investments don't bear a lot of fruit for the municipalities," Rick Eckstein, professor at Villanova University and author of Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle Over Building Sports Stadiums, told Kevin Libin of the National Post. Promises of revitalization and economic spin-offs don't live up to billing, he says, one reason why voters have grown jaded about stadium and arena proposals. In plebiscites, he says, "more and more often votes are getting voted down." Even when that happens, "they still go ahead and do it anyway."

7/25: Katz ups Oilers bid to $170M; promises to invest $100M in downtown arena, build training facility at U of A if offer accepted. (Joanne Ireland, Edmonton Journal)

8/2: Mayor Mandel, “Taxpayers are not going to foot the bill for a new arena,” regardless of who owns Oilers. "At the end of the day it's going to cost somebody some money. We'd assume that those who use the arena will help pay for it, whether that's the Oilers, Northlands, or whatever. I've been very clear that the citizens of Edmonton -- the taxpayers -- are not going to foot the bill for a new arena." In other words, absolutely no residential or non-residential tax monies will be used to fund a downtown arena, he says. Full stop. (Gary Lamphier, Edmonton Journal)

8/7: Katz’ $185M Oilers purchase offer rejected. Josh Pekarsky of the Katz Group tells Bill Mah of Postmedia News there will be no more offers.

8/18: Jim Taylor of the Dowtown Business Association tells the Journal’s Ron Chalmers, ““the downtown already is well on its way to being revitalized." With the surge of housing, new storefront retail, and proposed office towers, "we want the arena but we don't need it," Taylor says. "It must fit into the transportation and parking plans."” 

9/18: Ben Henderson, Ward 4 council candidate, tells Journal he’s in “wait and see” mode on arena. I am in a wait-and-see mode on the arena. “ I have huge concerns that it might just create a black hole in downtown that would only be truly active when the arena was in use. ... On the other side of the argument I have seen how effective Winnipeg's new arena, built on Portage Avenue right in the heart of downtown, has been ... “ (no byline)

9/19: Ward 3 candidate Tony Caterina tells Journal “Rexall Place being one of the few jewels in Ward 3 -- I believe - - is in the best location possible given that it is operated by Northlands very effectively. The infrastructure is already in place, like LRT stations, Yellowhead Trail and Wayne Gretzky Drive. If expansion of the facility is required, city-owned property already exists to the north of Rexall that could be utilized. ... As a private business, the Oilers are certainly free to pursue a new arena at their expense.” (no byline) 

9/21: Gordon Kent of the Edmonton Journal reports Mayor Mandel was questioned by a woman in the audience at an election forum who “asked for a referendum before any tax money is spent on a new arena to replace Rexall Place. Mandel insisted if the project goes ahead, it would be funded by the Oilers owners or some other source that doesn't involve city taxes. "It's not going to impact your pocketbook ... No taxes of yours will go into an arena."” 

9/21: Ward 6 candidate Amarjeet Sohi, in a written response to an Edmonton Journal survey of candidates, “I do not support the building of a downtown arena and I don't see city council playing any role is this. What Edmonton needs are community-based arenas to provide recreational opportunities for young people and families.” (no byline) 

9/25: Coun Sloan tells campaign forum if public going to borrow money, question should be put to vote. (no byline, Edmonton Journal)

9/25: Coun Gibbons responds to Edmonton Journal candidates’ survey: “My first wish would be for the arena to remain in Ward 3 as many of the employees live in the ward, and because of the direct LRT access. If the decision to move is eventually made, Northlands should continue to run the facility and no city tax dollars should be used.” (no byline)

9/27: Councillor Bryan Anderson responds to Journal survey, “Done well, an arena project can have a positive affect on a downtown area. At this time, we don't have enough information.” (no byline)

9/30: Councillor Linda Sloan responds to Journal survey, “I don't think there is anything wrong with Rexall Place that some renovations wouldn't fix. I do not believe that using public tax dollars to support a private franchise/arena would be responsible governance, particularly when we haven't been able in recent budgets to fund all the road and building maintenance that needs to be done.” (no byline)

10/1: Susan Ruttan, Edmonton Journal, writes that the issue of the downtown arena is flying under the radar during the election, although it will be one of the bigger issues facing new council.

10/2: Ward 2 candidate Dave Loken answers Journal’s candidates’ survey question regarding downtown arena: “As long as no taxpayer money is used. Edmonton has a shortage of ice times because there are not enough arenas, and Ward 2 is in need of a new recreation center.” (no byline)

10/5: Councillor Karen Leibovici responds to Journal candidate’s survey, “I need more information about the proposal for the downtown arena. I need to know what the pros and cons are, what the options are, how transportation will be provided to and from the arena, what we would do with Rexall Place and, of course, who would pay for it. Council's role would be to rezone land if there is a decision to go ahead. As well, I believe that council must ensure that this arena, if approved, is not a liability to the taxpayer.” (no byline)

10/10: Edmonton Journal editorial, “And of course, there's the question of money. Rightly, the mayor insists no city tax dollars will be involved, but voters might profit from a more vigorous discussion of how that can be accomplished, and under what circumstances that firm commitment might be bent.”

10/10: Edmonton Journal Straw Poll “What issue is the most likely to get you to the polls in the civic election on Oct. 15?”  Property taxes (25%) Affordable housing (26%) Transportation planning (15%) Infrastructure maintenance (25%) Downtown arena (9%) There were 1,765 votes.

10/11: Susan Ruttan, Edmonton Journal reports that the domestic policy subcommittee of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. has concluded that building big stadiums and arenas don't help the local economy of cities. "America's infrastructure is crumbling while state and local officials approve taxpayer-financed professional sports stadiums," the subcommittee stated in a news release.

10/11: Gary Lamphier of the Journal laments lack of debate over substantive issues during the election. He says the downtown arena proposal was “currently consigned to political limbo until a city-appointed committee tenders its report in December.” 

10/13: Edmonton Journal Straw Poll “Mayor Stephen Mandel is a big supporter of a new downtown arena, but says local tax dollars won't pay for it. Where would the money come from?” Private investors (26%) Increased oil royalties (7%) Mandel winning the lottery (8%) My pocket, eventually -- 59% There were 1,007 votes.

10/13: Roberta Brandes Gratz, an expert on cities and keynote speaker at the Heritage Canada Foundation conference held in Edmonton says that large projects like downtown arenas don't revitalize inner cities. "Arenas don't revitalize, period," the author of Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown, and The Living City: Thinking Small in a Big Way, told the conference. (Susan Ruttan, Edmonton Journal)
Note regarding 2007 Election: Records later show Stephen Mandel’s re-election campaign received a $15,000 donation from Katz Group Canada plus an additional $5,000 from Medicine Shoppe Canada.  (Source: Office of the City Clerk)

11/2: Jerry Bouma of Northlands tells the Journal’s Nick Lees his organization’s board members have no position on whether a new arena should be built downtown or Rexall Place renovated. "Our issue is not so much where, but our role," Bouma told Lees. "We've proved as operators we are second to none by staging such events as the World Figure Skating Championships and this year's World Curling Championships."

11/20: Northlands takes out a full page newspaper ad trumpeting Rexall Place's recent third-place ranking by Pollstar Magazine for Canadian concert arenas and 13th worldwide in terms of concert ticket sales. Daniel Mason, a professor in the school of business and physical education at the UofA tells the Journal’s Mike Sadava that the ad's purpose is probably two-fold: to show that Rexall is a functioning event centre, and that Northlands has the capacity to operate a new facility if built.

12/13: Katz tables new $200M offer, which includes  $100M to build a new arena. In a press release, Katz says, “"I have great respect for everything Cal and the EIG shareholders have done for the Oilers and for the City of Edmonton. I want to continue that tradition with a commitment to strong local ownership and an exciting vision for the Oilers. The centerpiece of that vision is a new world-class arena complex at the heart of a revitalized downtown." (Canada Newswire)

12/14: Coun Kim Krushell tells the Edmonton Journal’s Susan Ruttan that she’ll call for a plebiscite if arena involves large amount of tax money.

12/15: "As I've said hundreds and hundreds of times before, we just can't afford to take our municipal tax dollars and put it into an arena," Mayor Mandel tells the Edmonton Journal’s Darcy Henton. In the same story, Premier Stelmach is quoted: "It's a private-sector arrangement ... has nothing to do with the gov’t of Alberta."

12/16: Coun Anderson suggests building arena near The Meadows east of Mill Woods. Says would spur LRT expansion. (Susan Ruttan, Edmonton Journal)

12/18 Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal, writes “if we build the right kind of sports and entertainment centre at Northlands, it could still generate spin-off benefits for downtown bars, hotels, and restaurants. It might even help the major revitalization of the Fort Road district, now underway. I know, the vision of a shiny downtown arena is alluring. But we should not get wedded to the idea of a downtown site if it's not in the city's best interests.”