Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Downtown Arena - Slanted Numbers

I have to start off by allowing a few kudos to the folks running the City of Edmonton twitter account. They get various forms of "abuse" while trying to give Edmonton's twitter population information. And "information" is a good thing but only providing it's accurate and truthful. This is where the problem comes in however because there are times what you get, is only a biased truth. And as a taxpayer, I admit I am getting sick and tired of being legally lied to.

The City has been trying to shove their biased "truth" down my throat and I am seriously insulted. The line of "I am madder than hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" has been crossed. If it's a war you want then by all means it's a war you are going to get. This post will provide truthful information, most of which is provided BY the City. If all you ever hear is just the bottom line... the totals... and you accept that as truth, then you are really being blindsided. Take a moment... and look at what those totals actually mean.

For example, the City will tell you that according to the calls placed to 311, there are a total of 2,501 calls for the arena and 1,769 calls against. So clearly the citizens of Edmonton are demanding this arena so come hell or high water we just have to build it.

BUT... out of those 2,501 calls for the arena, 2,435 came in during a two week period (March 27 to April 9) when the Oilers were doing their promotional "call 311" during the last few home games. And wow, that's a lot of numbers, right? BUT... lets say those two home games had 16,500 people each, for a total of 33,000 supportive Oilers fans.

This works out to just under 7.5% of the people attending the games who called in. That also means that just over 92.5% of the supportive fan base did NOT call in saying "hell ya".

It should be noted that the 311 survey tracks a 19 week period between February 1 and July 5, 2011. So for out of 19 weeks ONLY 2 weeks had ANY form of support. That's about 10% of the time there was support and 90% of the time there was not support.

Let's look at some other information, because we can't just base something on this alone. A City document (link opens in a new window) about the Arena Telephone Survey (page 3) describes how 24% say public transportation is important followed by 17% who think "The Arena Project" is important. Subsequent pages show how 96% of the people are aware of a project, 82% can perceive benefits, etc etc. One a single question by biased question basis, one can only conclude yet once again, that this project should proceed. If you participated in this phone survey, you could not question the question, you could not sub divide it... your only option was to select a single choice mostly based on a single question. Questions designed by the City to enforce a positive outcome to proceed.

I mean after all, we do love our Oilers, we want them to stay. So when given single question choices we like to give positive answers for things we like. For example on page 7 of the above report, we can generically say we don't mind contributing to this. But when did "Having a mix of private and public funds to build the new arena" question turn into "Oh, did we forget to tell you that MIX would be about 80% taxpayer money?". Page 8 talks about having plans and we agree we need to have them. Yet we never agreed to have BAD plans as an end result. Page 9 talks about 'doing it' as long as taxes don't take a hit or infrastructure funds are used to pay for it. Yet we know that the CRL will increase the tax load for every resident in Edmonton because the services those taxes pay for that get sent to the CRL instead of general revenues, will have to be made up. For 30 years or more. And page 13? I mean really! Again pointing to a mixture of private/public funding, which was NEVER to be assumed we were giving away all of the profits as well.

Now that you know more about the above report, and clearly how biased it is, here is more proof for the pudding. The City's own report on community consultation on page 9 it clearly states that "At the time of public consultations, a funding model to support the Katz Group proposal had not been proposed to City Council." This means the City wanted to do all of these surveys and get a positive outcome to proceed, without the people knowing what the full deal would be. Very cool slight of hand, I must admit.

If you want some really interesting survey information, check out the Speak Up Edmonton site which provides link information on a 2009, 2010 and 2011 Ipsos Reid polls, which clearly show a more balanced truth where 70 plus percent of people just don't like what's going on.

I really want to know when Council will actually start to represent the truth rather than trying to conjure up some rubbish to support giving away all of the profits yet paying all of the costs.

As a note, there is the i880 news report that has a link to Ed Gibbons questions and that PDF document seems to have disappeared from the City's site. In that document it described a list of things that had formed the basis of the agreement. I seem to recall it was perhaps item F where it stated that all forms of revenue would be in place before this project is proceeded with. I remind those on City Council that both the Provincial and Federal governments have stated "no funds". You've all read the stories. And since it takes an average of 2 years to get CRL approval, and you can't proceed until those funds are IN PLACE as per the agreement... I have to ask what other slight of hand you are going to come up with now. But then, it's also kinda cute how all of the stories say Katz will put in $100 million, but now we hear it will only be 80 or so, and additional funds will be "down the road".


EDIT: July 20... the missing report re: i880news is located here

EDIT: July 23... the missing report above, has gone missing yet again. One simply has to love how the truth keeps getting lost and hidden and shuffled around by the City.  

EDIT: July 25... and the missing shuffled report is now located here. The City says it's never been moved but look at the links, see for yourself...


  1. Interesting take on the numbers but numbers can slanted in many ways. One can also say the silent majority waited to call in and nothing wrong Oilers asking fans to call in, just as there is nothing wrong with those opposed asking like minded people to call in against. As a whole from people I know and talked to they are in favor of it but as a hockey fan and a downtown fan I am biased and hope it gets done.

  2. You are correct, they can be slanted in many ways. And in many cases, the individual questions the City asked... the responses (not taking anything else into account) are probably fairly accurate.

    The issue is how ALL of the questions combined, were asked or generated, from the concept of pushing this through, rather than what the complete facts are. Had those same questions been asked AFTER we knew more about the costs and where the money goes, I suspect the answers would have been completely different.

    I suspect that the vast majority of the people in Edmonton enjoy the fact the Oilers are here. We may not like how they have played over the past 10 years but...

    I also suspect that if Katz put in 10% of the money and got 10% of the profits, it would be much easier to sell to the people. Regardless of all of this, there still remains the issue of Northlands. Like them or not, they have a legal contract for "Rexall". You can't just shut them down and not have it cost anything. Even more upsetting is how the City seems to think the CFR will be downtown when it won't, and how crazy it would be to hold K-Days concerts during K-Days time, when K-Days users would have to fork over major time and additional dollars to transfer between the Ex grounds and downtown, and back again.

    If the City really wants to do this, they have to do a much better job on dealing with the issues. They have not done this.

  3. Good points about K-days or cap ex or whatever they will call it, never thought of that. Yes the city will be investing a lot but I truly feel the city will get it back from tax revenue and further growth around the project, downtown needs this as to be honest downtown is a bit of a hole after the businesses close, even worse in winter. As for the profits I don't have a problem with Katz getting the profits if he is going to pay 100% of the operating and maintenance costs. Perhaps the city and Katz can work a deal where part of the profits go to the city to help repay the cities investment, that would be fair I think. It would be even better if the profit sharing formula included the additional tax generated for the city by the project was worked into this investment recoup profit share plan.
    I agree the there could be a better deal between the two sides and hopefully it will get better. What I do not like is the lame argument that "well Katz is a billionaire so he should pay himself" that to me is an argument without merit.
    Having a world class facility for the Oilers and the city has enormous value not only for hockey fans but for the city. I have been very fortunate in my job as I have been able to travel the world and the main reason people know of this little city in northern Alberta is because of the Oilers, like or not it is true. This fact generates tourism, investment and gets Edmonton known. This project will add to that, bigger conventions, concerts, events and if the Oilers get winning again it will even be bigger. Katz has invested a few hundred mil already in
    the team already, something we need to be competitive which we should be in a few years as now we have an owner willing to pay those crazy salaries. Now he is willing to investment a couple hundred mil more into the arena project. Many other people and businesses are going to make a lot of money on that including the city and province so why shouldn't they invest as well? To say it is just about a billionaire's hobby paying millionaire salaries is very simplistic and not aware of the big picture.
    I saying I do think there is something to be said about the numbers your presented they are a bit slanted thx to a blitz by the Katz group but as I said before they have the right to do what they did. We also also have to honest most Canadians and edmontonians just sit back silently and take what ever is dished out so who can say with any certainly what the real feeling of edmontonians is, pro or anti arena project. Perhaps a plebiscite is in order but then how many eligible voters would vote?
    Good fair discussion, thanks for it

  4. With regards to the 311 numbers, you've only presented half the story. Of the 1769 "against" calls, how many came during the during the same two week period (March 27 to April 9)?

    Also, for argument's sake, you say that 92.5% of the supportive fan base did not call in to say "hell ya". Yet, 99% of Edmontonians have not called in to say "hell no", either. So the stat is kind of a wash.
    Not to mention the fact that not all Oilers fans are supportive of a downtown arena. I know several that don't want to lose the history of Rexall.

  5. For Emberly .. There were a total of 1,029 calls against the arena project during the 2 week period where the majority (2,435 out of a total of 2,501) of the "for" calls were made. If you take out all of the "big rush" numbers of those two weeks, you still end up with 66 people FOR the arena (2501 - 2435) and 740 people (1769 - 1029) who are AGAINST the plan.

    No matter how you cut it, when you look at all of the other surveys... when you look at the calls directly to Council members... the results consistently show that the majority of the people (in the 85-90% range) simply do not like how the current plan is structured.