Monday, April 22, 2013

Arena Timeline 2011

The following information is presented by Mimi Williams aka @willmimi on twitter. This is the fourth 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 covering 2010, and Part 4 (what this section is about) will include the 2011 year. Please enjoy the read, and remember to thank Mimi for her extensive work.

OH ... WAIT! ... Who would have thought ... yes... a Part 5 will be coming, maybe even a part 6 (compiled by me).. One thing you have to love about never ending sagas, is they never end. Also as an "editors note" if you will, I have changed the format of this post a bit, by putting the dates in bold. This was done because several date entries now include much longer quoted text. I have also tried my best to verify that the links supplied, work... Mimi had included many more than shown, but they were no longer valid. I'm kind of sad that some media outlets would pull stories or place them someplace else other than their original links. Just saying...

Edmonton’s Downtown Arena – All the News that was Fit to Print (Part 4)


Please note: This is a non-exhaustive list of media coverage of the downtown arena project throughout 2011. In an effort to reduce redundancy, I have not bothered to include any of David Staples’ columns. For the entries below, I have attempted in every case to cite the source. If no source is cited, it’s because all local media reported the item and I haven’t directly quoted any of them. Despite my efforts, if errors have been made with attribution, I take full responsibility and will correct any that are called to my attention.
Mimi Williams 

1/1/: Canadian Business Magazine places Daryl Katz 16th on their ‘Rich 100 List’. “Claim to fame: Katz's 2008 purchase of the Edmonton Oilers has led to a public tango with the City of Edmonton over a proposed downtown hockey palace both want but neither wants to pay for. Katz's latest offer: $200 million,with a vague "or else."” 

1/14: Arena report says Katz Group has agreed to put $100 million into construction and the city expects it could cover the cost of borrowing $250 million from property taxes on surrounding new development and a ticket tax.  Does not mention the missing $100 million and suggests the arena be operated by a non-profit organization. City conducted telephone survey found 59% respondents approve of arena if number of conditions met, including a plan for Rexall. (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

1/17: City Council refuses to hear from citizens & Cdn Taxpayers Federation representative registered to speak at arena public hearing.

1/18: Council approves the Katz Group rezoning application.

1/25: Katz Group's Bob Black repeats student housing part of arena district vision; U of A says it's interested.

2/9:  John Allemang asks the question, if arts and culture are publicly funded, why not sports arenas? Globe and Mail

2/10: No No No to federal funding of Quebec Arena, Lorne Gunter National Post

2/10: Mayor Mandel upset about rumours that Quebec City might be able to use federal gas tax credits for their arena, because Edmonton’s is already committed to the south LRT. “I’m a bit disappointed that they made changes to help a group with something when other people have already committed,” said Mandel. “I don’t think it’s fair.” - Heather McIntyre, MetroNews

2/12:  Colby Cosh answers Allemang in Maclean’s: “The piece starts by asking why pro sports shouldn’t be subsidized with working people’s tax dollars when museums and concert halls are. The most obvious answer, and stop me if you’ve heard this, is that professional sport at the uppermost level is played for profit by people who are already millionaires.” 
2/14: Montreal Gazette editorial ‘Spending our tax dollars on arena absurd’. “The madness of the publicly financed professional sports facility has to end. It's a con game, the process by which billionaire owners and millionaire players blackmail the public into footing the bill for the venues where they earn billions for themselves...”
2/20: Watching Oilers game, Gary Bettman declares, “There's no question about it, they're not going to stay in this building." Councillor Sohi says such anultimatum is inappropriate.

3/2: After a closed door meeting with councillors where they received an update on arena negotiations from administration, Mayor Mandel says he wants a vote on a final decision on April 6th. "Either we build a newarena or we become a second class city," he said.
3/3: Fed gov’t announces it will not fund NHL arenas. "This is not the priority of taxpayers. Right now we are in the middle of an economic recovery that is fragile," said Rona Ambrose, federal minister of public works and an Edmonton-area MP. Meanwhile, Mayor Mandel tells Elise Stolte with the Edmonton Journal that a decision must be made by end of month. “"There is not an option of fixing Rexall. Either we build a new arena or we become a second-class city, which in my mind, I don't want to be. I believe the City of Edmonton will negotiate a good deal with the Katz Group." 
3/4: Edmonton Sun editorial (unsigned):

“Mayor Stephen Mandel is faced with a choice today: he can either assume the federal government rejected funding an arena out of an examination of the facts, or he can assume the federal Tories did it for purely political purposes.
What either assumes, however, is that there is a strong case against building a new arena in Edmonton using public money…
Either way, the decision not to accept a $100-million funding request is a damning indictment of Mandel's continuing attempt to build a legacy for himself against public wishes - using money, it has to again be noted, from school tax collections. …
And every other logical examination supports why: it would be the only new Canadian arena in the NHL to have been built almost entirely with public funds. If private investors can make it work in other cities, why can't Daryl Katz do so here?”

3/10: Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz drops down on Forbes’ annual list of the world’s most wealthy.  Katz's net worth appears to have stalled at around $2 billion and he dropped more than 100 spots on the Forbes list within the past five years. In 2006, Katz was at No. 486 with $1.6 billion. In 2008, the year he bought the Oilers for $200 million, he fell to No. 573 on the list of the world's richest with a net worth of $2.1 billion. On this year's list, Katz comes in at No. 595 with $2 billion.  Sharon Singleton, QMI Agency

3/18: The federal government staunchly defends its decision not to fund the Quebec arena. House Leader John Baird explained to QMI Agency: “"We are not financing rinks owned by billionaires so millionaires can play in them."

4/1: City unveils CRL map; new property taxes in 29-blk radius to fund arena. Administration says they unable to project amount of money that might be raised, but it won’t be enough to service debt for 10 yrs.

4/4: In letter to Mayor, released to media, Katz says Oilers don’t agree with ticket tax idea.

4/7: Council votes to proceed with formal negotiations, though some conditions remain unmet.

4/8: City reduces CRL contribution & Katz Group agrees to ticket tax; $100M funding gap remains.

4/8: Northlands vows it will keep the Coliseum open: Northlands isn't bluffing with plans to continue operating Rexall Place even if the Oilers move to a new downtown arena, president Richard Andersen says. "We want to be clear, so there's no confusion. Until there's some other direction, our full plan is to get on with our business and run Rexall." (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

4/28: Council asks Katz Group to look at seat ownership proposal; Katz Group declines.

5/19: Council votes 8-5 to approve deal framework after late-night closed-door session. The motion they pass empowers the City Manager to finalize the details of the deal.

5/20: TheSun’s Terry Jones thinks that because Daryl Katz invited him to his private box at the Rogers Centre during a Canucks game this is a sure sign the province will be providing $100 million for the arena. Terry Jones also mistakenly thinks the city controls Northlands.

5/20: Oilers owner Daryl Katz says Northlands will do the right thing and not operate Rexall Place as a competitor to a $450-million downtown arena. 

"This (project) is in the best interests of the city, and clearly we can't support two arenas," he said from Vancouver, where he had watched a Canucks playoff game.” (Gordon Kent and John MacKinnon, Edmonton Journal)

5/21: Coun Sloan says tells the Edmonton Journal, “Councillors were puppets, with Mr. Katz, Mr. Bettman & the Mayor pulling the strings."

5/24: The Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones offers a rambling narrative wherein he states the Winnipeg Jets left in 1996 because the city forefathers didn’t have the foresight to build them a new arena. (He does not mention the old Winnipeg Arena had 15,300 seats and was the smallest in the league, a fact the team owners cited among their financial difficulties. Nor does he mention the $1.40 exchange rate of $1.40 and rapid expansion into the US which forced Canadian teams to pay US salaries and operate on Canadian revenues.)

5/27: The Sun declares that if there were a new arena Doug Weight (who had announced his official retirement) wouldn’t have had to leave. (cited at Sportsnet)

5/28: Contending with Slave Lake fires & High River floods, Premier says arena not on his radar.

6/4: Edmonton Journal reports Katz wants $125M interest-free loan (to be repaid with ticket tax) in addition to $100M provincial funding.

6/4: Councillor Gibbons tells the Edmonton Journal he felt 'corralled & pushed to the chute" in arena vote. Councillor Diotte is worried about cost overruns.

6/12: Calgary Mayor Nenshi tells the Edmonton Journal he's no fan of public funding for arena-like projects.

6/30: Progressive Conservative leadership contender Gary Mar tells a CBC editorial board: "In the scale of priorities for provincial infrastructure, I would say that Albertans would agree that hospitals, schools, long-term care centres, roads, other infrastructure would be a higher priority than an arena in the city of Edmonton.”

7/5: The Sun’s Terry Jones reveals why Ryan Smyth and LuxSteakhouse are firmly behind the arena deal. “You get the idea Ryan Smyth is projecting himself to be in the team picture in 2014 and thinking ahead to playing in Daryl Katz’s new downtown arena. 

“That would be great,” he said at the press gathering yesterday at the downtown Lux Steak House where he is a 10% owner. 

“With the location of the Lux, I’m definitely on Katz’s side for building that arena where it’s been planned.””
7/13: Premier says province won’t fund arena, might help with infrastructure like LRT. Katz Group tells the Canadian Press the Oilers are losing money.

7/20: Edmonton Examiner’s Scott Haskins writes that even though he likes the idea of a downtown arena, he can’t support this deal. Of Katz, he says, “He wants his cake. And the whole pie. And the sweetest of all deals. In the Katz Group's perfect world, others would help pay for a building he totally controls, with every nickel going to him. Plus, a non-competition clause would basically eliminate Northlands as a viable organization after 130 years of operation. “

7/22: The Edmonton Journal reports that all 6 PC leadership candidates veto idea of province funding arena.

7/23: PC leader candidate Ted Morton pitches a referendum to ask voters to voluntarily add 1% to GST for 2 yrs to pay for arena.

7/26: Premier Stelmach meets w/ Mayor Mandel, says province might find MSI funds and the city could decide to spend that on arena; the Municipal Affairs Minister pans Morton's tax idea

8/1: “In Edmonton right now a similar debate is going on, with one side preaching the virtues of civic renewal with a downtown arena, and the other protesting that public money needs to be allocated somewhere other than the pockets of a billionaire who owns a sports team…. Every reputable study ever published has established that sports stadiums have a negligible effect on local economies, but these tend to be presented as economic decisions. No, what these are are leveraged negotiations, with the love towards a franchise used to prop up its business model.” (Bruce Arthur, National Post)
8/5: CBC reports Katz Group asked MLA offices to redirect constituent calls about arena to them. MLAs are not amused.

8/6: Local media report Katz Group met w/ Enoch Cree about locating arena there.

8/23: Self-declared arena supporter & Journal Biz Editor Gary Lamphier writes, “downtown arena project badly needs some adult supervision”

8/26: City expands CRL zone to encompass 60 blocks; $100M to arena $266M to 9 other catalyst projects; tax lift estimated at $1.2B

8/29: In ode to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Metro News' Terence Harding writes “In Edmonton did Khubla Katz a pleasure dome decree.”

9/9: City confirms $1.2M arena costs via late afternoon press release after VUE reporter reveals the information (me - via twitter). It was handed to me by councillors who were upset that the information was deemed confidential in the first place.

9/10: Arena talks have cost city $1.15M; Spending on lawyers, consultants moving too fast for some councillors Elise Stolte, Edmonton Journal

9/13: Local media reports Daryl Katz living in VCR since April.

9/14: City council announces Special Meeting 9/23 for a public arena update.

9/15: PC leader candidates grilled on arena funding at final debate in Edmonton. Crowd boos any suggestion of public support.

9/17: Katz's rumoured Vancouver move muddies Oilers arena negotiations (Gary Lamphier, Edmonton Journal)
9/20: City council agenda for 9/23 Arena Update Special Meeting released; meeting will not be public after all. 

9/24: “City council will be hard-pressed to finalize key details of an arena decision before a Halloween deadline, but might need to vote on it anyway, councillors were told Friday morning.
A $100-million contribution from the provincial government has still not been secured, nor has a noncompete clause between the Katz Group and Northlands, city manager Simon Farbrother told council in an arena update Friday morning. But Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz and the Katz Group have said they would like to finalize a deal by Oct. 31, in part because their options on land north of 104th Avenue are set to expire soon. That leaves city hall just five weeks to finalize details.” (Elise Stolte, Edmonton Journal)

9/28: Scott Haskins, Edmonton Examiner, writes, “Coun. Linda Sloan had the best line regarding Katz' line in the sand of Oct. 31: "That kind of ultimatum is not a demonstration of good faith," she said. Since when did good faith have anything to do with bad business? I knew this was destined to become ridiculous, but I never thought it would go beyond ridiculous. It's increasingly obvious that Mr. Katz believes he's dealing from a position of power. Yes, Edmonton needs a new rink. But not at any cost.”

9/28: “The city could hold a final vote on whether to build a downtown arena by the end of next month, Mayor Stephen Mandel says.” (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal.)

9/30: “The Katz Group laid down the gauntlet Thursday when a senior official said the company must make a "significant" land investment by Oct. 31 to keep the downtown arena project alive.” (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

10/5: Northlands denies allegations they demanded $250M from the city. Andersen said he is surprised by the allegation, adding the figure comes from a May 18 email to Farbrother after a May 16 meeting between Andersen, Farbrother, and Mayor Stephen Mandel. The $250-million figure was “a conceptual response” to what a 35-year non-compete clause might be worth, Andersen said. “This was purely a response to their question,” Andersen said. “We never had a follow up, nobody ever responded.”

10/6:  Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel andCity Manager Simon Farbrother announce they are traveling to New York City at the request of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to meet with Katz Group officials about an agreement on the new $450 million downtown arena.
10/12: The mayor and city manager meet with the Katz Group in a closed meeting at the offices of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.  Terry Jones, Edmonton Sun 
10/14: City council has a closed door meeting and emerges to announce that the Katz Group has dropped its’ “No Compete” demand re: Northlands and that the city has agreed to put a ticket tax on any event at Northlands that is equal to the ticket tax at the new arena. The city also agreed that the KG contribution of $100M could be paid over 30 years. The city will have to borrow $350 million dollars to allow the arena to go ahead. The city also voted in favour of purchasing the arena lands from the Katz Group.
10/18: ‘Katz's power play scores major concessions; Arena deal exempts Group from investment and hobbles competition’ Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal

10/19: Northlands needs more arena info “Northlands needs more information about a proposed downtown arena deal to determine how well Rexall Place would do as a competitor, president Richard Andersen says. 

Although Andersen has vowed since last year to keep operating Rexall for concerts and other events if the Oilers move out, he said Tuesday Northlands has always looked for a "collaborative" way to be part of the arrangement. 

"It was never our desire to be in a situation where we would be a town with two public assembly facilities that are essentially Class A arenas," he said in his first public comment on the agreement recommended to city council. 

"There's a lot of information that still hasn't been sorted out. We're really unclear how this works, how the (ticket) surcharge works. Candidly, we don't think the city is clear either." (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

10/21: “The head of construction giant PCL warns that Edmonton risks becoming another Winnipeg if it passes up a new arena and loses its NHL team. 

"This has been dragging on for such a long period of time, and to me it's somewhat reminiscent of what went on in Winnipeg over 15 years ago," said Paul Douglas, president and chief executive of Edmonton-based PCL Constructors Inc.” (Bill Mah, Edmonton Journal) 

[Later, PCL would be given a contract to manage the project.]

10/25: City holds a public hearing on the arena project. Meanwhile, administration recommends spending $30 million to start designing the facility, but Couns. Diotte and Caterina want that move put off until councillors decide if the arena is going ahead.

“The land purchase was premature, this $30 million is premature,” Caterina said. “We could be spending taxpayers’ money … before we even know if an arena is a go or not.”

Although city officials have estimated the land price would be about $20 million, Caterina said it’s actually “considerably higher” — final details won’t be made public until the transaction is completed by Oct. 31. 

(We found out later it was $74.9 million)

10/25: New arena deal bad for taxpayers; But this week's city council vote may be a done deal “As Paula [Simons] explained, the long list of strict conditions under which city council had authorized negotiations with Oilers owner Daryl Katz back in April had been abruptly tossed aside. Instead, council was pushing ahead with a whole new plan - one that's even sweeter for the drugstore tycoon than the last one. 

Instead of contributing $100 million toward the cost of the $450 million project, as Katz had long proposed, the revised plan - unveiled following a closed-door meeting in New York between Katz, NHL commish Gary Bettman and Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel - calls for Katz to make annual lease payments of $5.5 million over 30 years. 

With no funds pledged toward the arena by either the feds or the province, and no funds due to flow from a proposed $125-million ticket tax until the arena is built, the new funding model means the city will have to finance the project's entire construction cost. 

That's not all. As Paula reported, the new scheme includes a 10-year sponsorship agreement under which the city will cough up $2 million a year to the Oilers, ostensibly as payment for marketing the city to fans who watch the team's games on television. The fact that most of those fans already live here is apparently irrelevant. 

The net result? Katz Group's $5.5 million annual lease payment would effectively be slashed to $3.5 million, at least for the first 10 years that the arena is in operation. That's quite a comedown from the $100 million upfront commitment that was previously dangled before the eyes of taxpayers. ….

For a sum that has yet to be disclosed, the city has agreed to purchase the downtown arena lands optioned by Katz, thereby increasing the city's current $125-million commitment to the project. 

On the flip side, despite Katz Group's sharply reduced upfront equity commitment, it still gets to choose and hire the architect for the project, come up with the design, and keep 100 per cent of the proposed arena's revenues.”… 

"It's a terrible deal," says U of A sports economist Brad Humphreys. 

"They're still short $100 million and I don't see it going very far until they come up with the remainder of the funding." 

What's more, by allowing Katz to forgo the $100 million upfront funding commitment in return for a 30year lease at $5.5 million per annum, Humphreys says the city has further softened the financial burden on the Oilers owner. 

"I notice in the reporting to date, people are saying Katz is paying $165 million, which is $5.5 million over 30 years. But that's not right. That calculation ignores the time value of money, which believe me, is coming out of the taxpayers' pockets." (Gary Lamphier, Edmonton Journal)
10/26: Council votes 10-3 to approve the arena financialframework. Under the framework, the building will have a maximum price of $450 million. Katz is contributing $100 million, to be paid in installments over 30 years. Another $125 million will be raised by a ticket tax. The Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) and parking revenues will provide another $125 million. Katz will pay $100 million to spark development around the arena, with $30 million being paid up front. The city has approached the federal and provincial governments for the remaining $100 million but so far there is no indication the money will come through. Councillor Caterina gives the project his support after securing an amendment that Katz will invest $30M of his promised $100M surrounding private development immediately. Councillors Kerry Diotte, Linda Sloan and Don Iveson cast the dissenting votes. According to administration, the city would actually have to spend as much as $305 million which includes infrastructure, land and interest on the debt. 

“Councillor Sloan Sloan spoke out against the lack of clarity about much money the city needs to spend. She is also concerned that the city hasn't sought enough collateral from Katz to cover the losses if he defaults on the $100 million.

"What impact this deal has on current capital budgets or future is unknown," Sloan said.

"The lack of analysis and publication of this corresponding impact, in my mind, constitutes at the very least a breach of trust and at worst, an abdication of our elected respsonsibility."”

10/27: “Supporters of the plan argued that the arena will revitalize the downtown core and give a boost to the economy. Unfortunately, this argument flies in the face of more than 20 years of economic studies, which suggest that sporting arenas provide little economic benefit. 

A study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives in 2000 concluded that, "independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no correlation between sports facility construction and economic development." 

Likewise, the Cato Institute found that the results of its study were "no different from those of the previous studies that found no relationship between the professional sports environment and local economies." 

Other studies have found that even successful arenas provide only localized benefits, rather than improving the region as a whole. Oftentimes, new stadiums actually hurt local businesses by taking away customers, and only serve to reshuffle jobs and capital, rather than attract new investment to the city….This is nothing more than corporate welfare …But cities should not be in the business of giving subsidies to billionaires, and governments should not allow their finances to be co-opted by companies shopping around for special favours - which necessarily come at the expense of the taxpayers. 

The deal to secure a new arena for Edmonton should be upsetting to Alberta's large conservative base and the Occupy Edmonton movement alike.” (Jesse Kline, National Post)

10/28: “Mayor Stephen Mandel said he hopes to meet government officials within the next couple of weeks to discuss ways of paying for the arena, but wouldn't reveal whether his suggestions include gambling money.” (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

11/1: “The money for the land purchase is not included in the $450-million cost for the arena, and will be paid for out of the city's general revenues, not from a ticket tax or community revitalization levy.
The purchase price only became public Monday, once the title transferred to the city.” (Edmonton Journal)

12/1: “The value of the Edmonton Oilers jumped 16 per cent in the last year to $212 million US, Forbes magazine reported Wednesday. … The overall rise in value came despite the fact that more than half the league’s teams lost money during the 2010-11 season. The Oilers are ranked as the league’s 15th most valuable franchise, with revenues of $96 million and profits of $17.3 million.

Forbes noted that Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz has struck a deal to build a $450-million arena to replace Rexall Place that could raise annual revenues by $20 million. However it noted Katz has little chance of moving the team if the deal falls through.” (Global Edmonton) 

12/14: Northlands will thrive even if the Edmonton Oilers - its anchor tenant and main drawing card - never play another game at Rexall Place after the team's lease expires, president and CEO Richard Andersen said Tuesday. ... “While Oilers owner Daryl Katz dropped the demand that Northlands accept a non-compete clause during negotiations on a new downtown arena, the city agreed to impose a new ticket tax on Rexall Place equal to that earmarked for the new arena. 

Andersen said he doesn't know what the effect of the ticket tax will be. "We have not had any sort of followup, official or unofficial, from anybody from the public sector or whoever. I don't think anyone really knows. These sorts of things take years." 

Andersen said he also doesn't know where the Oilers will play if their lease runs out in 2014 and their new arena is not built.” Bill Mah, Edmonton Journal

12/24:  The Edmonton Journal names the arena the top business story of 2011:
“Under terms of the deal, the city agreed to contribute $125 million toward the arena's cost, with another $125 million coming from a ticket tax or "facility improvement fee" to be levied on patrons.
Katz Group, which previously pledged a $100-million upfront investment, instead agreed to a 30-year mortgage at $5.5 million a year, along with various other commitments and obligations.
Although some criticized the deal as too generous - Katz Group retains all arena revenues and naming rights, and the Oilers stand to receive city promotional fees of $2 million a year over 10 years - others were relieved that a deal, any deal, was finally concluded. 

Except, well, it's not. 

Since the province has yet to commit any of the $100 million in funding the city hoped to secure for the project, key questions remain. And with the Oilers' lease at Rexall Place set to expire in 2014, just two years off, the NHL team may be forced to negotiate an extension with North-lands before it's ready to move into its new home.” (Gary Lamphier, The Edmonton Journal)

12/16: In a year-end interview Mayor Mandel predicts his long-sought deal to build a new arena will be finalized in 2012 and that he anticipates the process will be faster and cheaper than expected.
"I think we can have a fairly good idea of the price by springtime," he said. 

"My hope is you can build it for less than $450 million. Basically, you have to have a price less than that, because you have to allow for contingencies." 

The city, Oilers owner Daryl Katz and a ticket tax are each covering part of the funding, which is still $100 million short. Proponents want the province to make up the difference, although Premier Alison Redford has repeatedly said her government won't provide any extra money for the city-owned, Oilers-run facility. (Gordon Kent, The Edmonton Journal)

12/29: “It's been called the key to one of Edmonton's biggest downtown revitalization projects and a billionaire's massive tax-funded gift, but like it or not, a new arena is finally poised for construction.” (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)

12/31: Gary Lamphier, Edmonton Journal makes bold predictions for 2012:
·         Alberta Premier Alison Redford will lead the Tories to a landslide election win next spring.
·         Under a new municipal sports infrastructure spending initiative, she will allocate $100 million of provincial funds toward Edmonton's new downtown arena. Similar amounts will be allocated toward a new arena in Calgary, and arenas in smaller Alberta cities.
·         Redford's announcement will be made on the evening of April 5th, just before the long Easter weekend. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation will blast the province for investing public money on a facility run by a private enterprise. Redford will not be available for comment.
·         As was the case in 2011, Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz and his subordinates will not grant this columnist an interview in 2012.
·         The Edmonton Oilers will continue to rank among the NHL's most profitable franchises in 2012, according to Forbes magazine. The club's current estimated franchise value of $212 million US will also increase, boosting it to 12th spot among the league's 30 clubs.
·         The Oilers will be forced to negotiate a one-year extension of their current lease at Rexall Place, which expires in 2014. The talks with Northlands will drag on for months.

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