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."

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