October 17 2012 06:57PM
Yesterday Daryl Katz informed Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel that he wouldn't accept the mayor's invitation to come talk to city council. Today city council voted unanimously to cease negotiations with the Katz group and empowered city administration to look at other options.
This doesn't mean the deal is dead. The city is still very much open to negotiating with the Katz Group, but they will cease spending any more money on the design at this point.
Call it part of the negotiations, but for Edmontonians it was just another bad day in a four year negotiation.
This doesn't put the city any closer to a new arena, and make no mistake Edmonton needs a new arena, mostly because we need to start upgrading our downtown. The arena will be the catalyst, and now we to wait until January 13th to find out what the next step is.
There was also a motion tabled that would see the city agree to the original deal from last October. The reality is the longer this deal takes to make the more it will cost. For all those who are celebrating today as a defeat of Katz, keep in mind the city is no closer to a new arena, and you might be on the hook for the entire thing.
The most sobering and disappointing comment came from Mandel, "I don’t believe we are much further ahead today than we were four years ago except for a greater ask of money.”
Four years and no progress. Ouch.
Simon Farbrother, who has been negotiating on behalf of city administration, told council he didn't get the sense the Katz Group wanted to back off of their new demands of another $6 million/year in operating subsidy and so city council voted to cease negoitations.
- I honestly don't believe that negotiating publicly would have helped Katz, but by not showing up he lost the trust of many Edmontonians. Why couldn't he have shown up and stated he was willing to continue to negotiate, but didn't feel doing it publicly would help. At least he would have shown he was willing to talk, and maybe answer a few simple questions.
- Many have suggested the Katz Group should have to show his financials to city council. This could turn out to be a legal nightmare for the city. Can anyone guarantee some of the info wouldn't be leaked publicly? Rather than worry about that, city councillors should at least get to see the Master agreement. To date they've never seen that, and that is a tad perplexing. I'm not in favour of the Katz Group needing to show their finances. I think we can all see the Oilers have made a profit in the past.
- The city can look at funding the arena on their own, but there will be some hurdles. They'd have to negotiate rent with Katz and they'd have to give him some non-game night revenue. Also then they'd be in the business of operating the arena, and that is something the city should be a part of. Maybe Katz operates it, who knows, but I don't think Katz will completely walk away.
I applaud the city for taking a stand. I feel this was a tough decision that needed to be done. I still believe both sides will meet again though.
Today was not a win for anyone. We aren't any closer to a new arena, and in fact we are farther away than we were last October.
I hope that before January 13th the Katz Group contacts city administration and continues to negotiate. If they don't then city administration has to do some serious research and find out the major hurdles of building on their own and ensure they come to city council with plan that ensures we reach an arena deal sometime in 2013.
Unfortunately there is no resolution in sight. You know it is bad when the NHL and NHLPA might reach an agreement before the Katz Group and the city does.