When city council voted 13-0 to cease negoations with the Katz Group, some wondered if this signaled an abrupt end to the dream of a new downtown arena in Edmonton. It didn’t, it just means both parties will spend some time apart with the hope to reconcile their differences in the future. 

Will it work? I think it might, but why did the city choose this direction. I spoke with Edmonton city councillor Kim Krushell about the city’s frustration and how, or if, they plan to move forward.

JG:  Explain what it means now that the city administration was told to cease negotiations with the Katz Group?

KK: Well we did a three part motion. I won’t go into tonnes of detail, but the gist of it is that we cease negotiations in terms of us continuing to spend the cash that we’ve been spending on the design costs. And then the rest of it is, listen administration, go out and investigate other avenues which leaves the back door open if the Katz group starts re-examining their situation and says ‘you know, maybe we should reconsider,’ and be more reasonable in what their asking for.

So we haven’t taken everything off of the table, we had to send a stronger message than I think we sent a few weeks back when the first public spending request came. Also councillor Anderson and I moved a motion basically saying we’re supporting again the original deal that we felt we had.

Was I happy that we were going down the direction that we went down today, no. I think that we have tried very hard to negotiate to get a deal done. I think obviously that the frustration has been building. We had to do something to cease the situation and stop and spend some time away. We spent some time debating the word (cease) in council today. It is meant to say to the Katz group, ‘listen, the way that you are negotiating right now isn’t working for us.’

 I can appreciate the fact that he didn’t show up. I mean, I don’t know if that would have been productive. But I think that it would have gone a long way to at least getting some public support and I think that that was critical and unfortunately that didn’t happen.

JG: Has a private company ever had to come in front of city council like this before or been asked to come in front of city council?

KK: I’m trying to think, I’m sure we have. We’ve had more than one group come to us asking for different things including funding. But off of the top of my head, nothing is coming quickly to mind.

JG: Now when they were asked to come to city council, some people wondered if a private company has to open up their books. Some people think that this is a unique partnership. What is your personal opinion on it, can it be made public just to city council and not the citizens of Edmonton?

KK: Listen, I’ve never been hung up on the ‘I need to personally necessarily see the financials.’ I need to see the master agreement which is critically important to understanding the agreement at the end of the day. I need to have confidence that the negotiators that we’ve hired, that are lawyers, and that our city administration have seen enough of the financials and have a legal agreement that if action needs to be taken against who you’re doing a deal with, that you have something to hold onto in regards to that deal.

So in this case if Katz didn’t meet his agreements that I would want security of some type, and I think that that is exactly what administration was going for. The challenge with the financials being shown to every councillor is the obvious one and that is unfortunately leaks do happen and have happened in the past on various different issues. And while I would like to think that all of us on council are doing the best that we can and aren’t leaking any information, I know that that has happened in the past. So there is a valid concern there and there is a liability that you open up the city for if information gets leaked, and then it is the city and the tax payer that have to pay when the liability kicks in.  Unless you can absolutely prove who leaked the information and that’s hard to do.

There are lots of things that we deal with and that we have to deal with in private, this (arena) is not unique.

 Sometimes we cannot divulge the information. I can give you one example; let’s pick the LRT where we’re spending a lot of money. We can’t sit there and say we’ve put this much aside for this individual’s property and this much aside for another. That kind of information, you can appreciate, we don’t divulge to the public.

I think that there has got to be reasonableness. To be fair to Katz I wasn’t as hung up on the fact that he necessarily appear in public for a drubbing by council. I felt that he needed to demonstrate that he was prepared to meet with us in public and perhaps showing up today to say ‘I’m willing to negotiate with you at this time.’ To go into detail may not have been appropriate; I would have even accepted that as at least more of an olive branch. But the guy didn’t show up today. I understand that.

He needs to understand that unfortunately we are a public body; we need public support to make decisions and right now Jason, the emails that I’ve had, I think that there are a lot of people out there that would like to have a deal, but they’re not happy with the Katz group. A lot of them are saying just build it yourself.

JG: Has anyone looked seriously into the benefits or risks of the city building the arena by themselves?

KK: That’s what the motion that we did bring into play today addressed. I have said publically that a build it yourself option is certainly something that we can look at because I would like to keep NHL hockey in Edmonton.  But it is a backup plan, because obviously things like location agreements with the Oilers is a bit challenging. The idea of Mr. Katz even continuing to partner with us is one, he owns the team, and those are all factors that we have to take into consideration.

So today we did ask administration to explore all avenues which would include looking at us building it ourselves, but when you start looking at the financials, I have always liked the deal that we had a year ago. I have been very supportive of it because it didn’t get the city of Edmonton into the business of operations of the Oilers. And my concern is that if we go down the road of building it ourselves, well obviously we’ll be involved directly with operations. Now people might like that idea because we’ll be involved in the revenues but I do see some challenges. Certainly other arenas have had some challenges when they go down that road.

JG: There are a few of the other motions that perplexed me. Councillors proposing that all of a sudden the winter gardens shouldn’t be a part of this. I thought that we had a deal, now why are they suddenly suggesting that maybe we should change our mind on the design?

KK: Well there have been some councillors from the very beginning who have not appreciated the design of the oil drop and what makes it an oil drop is the winter garden that goes across. Now some councillors are not happy with the size of the winter gardens because it’s an obvious cost savings. It’s added a huge amount of cash to the project. I mean really if you look at it, it’s like 81 million. You chop that down because you can make some revenue off of it, and you’re looking at a 70 million cost. Now the city isn’t responsible for all of that cost, we’re capped at 25 million, but Katz mentioned that maybe we should cost share on all of these new increased to the design.

And so some councillors were looking to address that.

 I think that other councillors are simply not happy that the pedway eliminates people on the street. And we’re trying to demonstrate that we are a winter city and we don’t need to put pedways everywhere, and that we can, in fact, put some people on the street.

 And before we’ve, in my opinion, had really good information from the administration going forward, not to mention the architect, I thought it was very premature to support that motion. In fact, we decided to postpone it which I thought was far more appropriate.

JG: When you look at this overall scenario, the casino funding seems to have become a very big issue. And from what I know and all of the research that I’ve looked into, this is more of a provincial thing and not a city thing. Did city administration address the ongoing debate between the city administration and Katz group revolving around the casino license?

K: Oh absolutely and there were a lot of questions of administration today. The casino was one that I actually asked. The administration has said that the casino has never been, I mean sure it’s a wish list of the Katz group, but the reality is, and Mr. Farbrother confirmed this, that the jurisdiction determining the casino, is not within our jurisdiction. It is a provincial matter. We can be supportive of the idea of a casino concept, but that doesn’t mean that we can actually waive the magic wand and make that casino happen and this information I think has been conveyed to the Katz group more than one time.

So when you take the basket of wish list that the Katz group has brought to the table recently, you can appreciate that council has been kind of startled by some of these tasks. Some of them we can simply never deliver on, and that’s where you’ve got a lot of councillors really starting to scratch their heads and saying with the visit to Seattle, is the plan really here to not move forward with us and to look at elsewhere?

JG: So where do we go from here?

KK: Well I’m hoping that the Katz group, I look back at some of the other arena deals Jason, and you always go through a ying and yang, and this has dragged out more than I think it should have. Maybe we’ll get to the point where we’ve hit that drop dead time and maybe the Katz group will look at this and say, ‘you know in the very beginning Daryl wanted to do something to help revitalize downtown and also keep hockey in Edmonton. He bought the team for a reason.’

And I’d like to think that he’ll go back and look at that and come back to the table and say, ‘I have some real concerns, and the design cost is what we might look at and the long term capital.’ Then maybe there’s room for discussion. But right now with the way that the PR has occurred unfortunately, the public support out there, and the frustration that we have on council including myself has reached that limit where we had to do the motion that we did today.

But I still hold out hope. If not, obviously we will be having a lot of different options brought back to us and one of those different options is to look at other partners and to look at building an arena ourselves. We are a great city for NHL hockey. I think that you know that, fans know that.

JG: I think that the city needs an arena more as a way to start the revitalization of our downtown and that’s the bigger thing. NHL hockey is great and I know that we love it, but sometimes I wonder if it’s become too much about hockey and not enough about the city.

KK: I certainly argued, more than once, that one of the main reasons why I’m supporting it, I think most people know that I’m not an expert at hockey. You could quiz me on the players and I’d be hard pressed to name many. I’ve never pretended differently.

The reality for me is the idea of being able to access the CRL. Now remember the province has to approve it and being able to revitalize our downtown. And that I’ve always seen as a huge opportunity, and I’d like to see that opportunity happen.  And now one of the questions we have is if we build it ourselves maybe that opportunity can still continue. Because it’s not like there aren’t any other projects that we have heard that are in the hopper.

So I think that that is kind of the information that we’ll get back in the near future. I certainly am willing to consider other options that the Katz group might bring to the table. I think that the challenge the Katz group might have, the vote today was 13 to 0 for the first time, I think that that’s sending the message that it’s really tough to get councillors who serve the public to proceed unless something much more reasonable is put on the table from their direction.


I still believer a deal will be made. Both sides need one another, and like a good relationship, some times both parties just need some time away.

The countdown is on…At 2 p.m. today expect an another Nation first.

If you like trainwrecks, you will love this.


I highly recommend watching The Last Gladiators, a documentary about the life of Chris Nilan. This is not a celebration of fighting, but a realistic look at a guy who had some struggles on and off the ice. It was very honest, real and gripping. I had the chance to do a Q&A with Nilan after the film last night, and his honesty was incredible. He made no excuses, pulled no punches and I think many will be surprised at how good of a hockey player he became.

Did you know Nilan played in the 1987 Canada Cup for the United States and scored two goals in five games. He was a hell of a fighter, but he worked incredibly hard to become a decent player. In 1984/1985 he scored 21 goals and added 358 penalty minutes.

You’ll like this film.

  • “When city council voted 13-0 to cease negoations with the Katz Group, some wondered if this signaled an abrupt end to the dream of a new downtown arena in Edmonton. It didn’t, it just means both parties will spend some time apart with the hope to reconcile their differences in the future.”

    My parents did the same thing when I was 12. I’ll skip to the end for you, my parents didnt get a new Downtown Arena back together.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    There have been whispers by some people before before but I find it interesting to hear a councillor question out loud whether or not Katz is actually looking for a way out of the deal.

    On a different note and with 20-20 hindsight in looking at the frame work of the deal originally agreed to, I wonder if this isn’t something that the EIG would have been able to handle?

    I know they had some trepidation about not being able to deliver an arena if they continued but given the deal that was ultimately negotiated I question if that fear was premature.

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    Well, obviously the City of Edmonton has issues with “Unfortunately some information leaks out”, funny its never information thats not relavent to anything, but always information that is privy.
    Both parties, Katz Group and the City of Edmonton have some hurdles to clear amongst themselves and together, but trust and in confidence should never be a hurdle prior.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Here is the way I see things going the next few years.

    Step 1: Katz will take our team with our young superstars to Quebec to play in an arena built by our transfer payments.They will win a half dozen Stanley Cups.

    Step 2: Our brilliant city council will build a new arena at a cost of about a billion dollars.

    Step 3: After about 5 years of no NHL in edmonton the city will convince the New York Islanders to move here. They will never make the playoffs.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    What does Ralph Klein think of all this? Remember when he got drunk and walked into a homeless shelter and told them all to get jobs? That was awesome. I would trade Ralph a bottle of scotch for his opinion on this matter…

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan


      self edited, dont want to make light of dementia and offend anyone..serious sh**

  • Czar

    “To be fair to Katz I wasn’t as hung up on the fact that he necessarily appear in public for a drubbing by council.”

    Justified or not, that is exactly what would have happened.

    Katz should have just sent his idiot PR guy to take the public flogging then set a date to go over the numbers with the city lawyers.

  • BurkeTheTurd

    i think Mandel and Krushnell are reasoned thinkers. been good boosters for growth…arena, etc.

    i would like a partnership to still occur but am also realistic to the fact that this sandbox may not be big enough for both of them.

    build and arena. for Edmontonians BY Edmontonians.

  • Calvin

    I am just so exhausted of all this, I want to just slip into a coma and wake up a year from now when the NHL is definitely back in business and we have started production on a new arena.

    Does anybody know if this is possible with modern science?

  • No one wants to be had, not the city not the Katz group.

    The city councilors and the mayer are being stupid and hypocritical. They say they wont waste tax payers money, yet that is their whole track record under his watch. They dont want to put some money in, but then their other option is to build the arena them selves, without even a guarantee of having a team to put in there.

    The arena is needed and so is an upgrade and a new life in downtown Edmonton. The city will benefit greatly from it in other areas of business and tax in the downtown core. Mandel and the council are using this to score points with the voters and show that they care about the taxpayers dollars or the citys budget. I believe that Mandels investements group and the Katz group are not sleeping in the same bed, and it hurts Mandel to cough up the money over to someone he aint in bed with.

    Just like I’m hoping the NHL locks the players out for as long as deemed necessary, I hope Katz moves the Oilers because that little weasel tried to play a righteous touch guy. Mandel is a crook and a push over and should play his role as such, I dont understadn what he is trying to prove now.

    • i remember your comments from another post about how being a politician was easy. comical.

      i understand your frustration with the progress, or lack thereof, i agree with it. i do not however share the belief that council is run by a bunch of dimwits. i think the correct step was taken yesterday.

      sure there is no guarantee that, if, the city were to build an arena that the Oilers would be its main tenant. i think a reciprocated agreement could be reached between a city owned arena and the Katz Group. the benefit to the city is the related revenues (non-hockey, as Katz would probably want thoe hockey nights) but they also absord most of the risk, if not all.

      Katz could still build is meglo-maniac empire around the arena and reap the rewards of that.

      i’d still wish to reach a compromise of some sort for a joint facility but if that does not happen it will be in no fault to the boosters on council who have ALREADY agreed to a deal in principle to invest in downtown.

  • I will not be shocked when Quebec city and Markham both become the talked destination of the Katz group. I personally think Katz – at this moment – cannot afford to keep the Oilers in Edmonton with the original Arena deal. I have reason to believe he is over leveraged and perhaps going through a nasty divorce.
    I know this, if #yegcc tries to build an arena on their own, without a agreement with Katz, Bettman and co will allow for the Oilers to move. I can’t picture a scenario where the NHL board of Governors does not allow for a team to move from Edmonton to Southern Ontario or Quebec city, especially after the Government of one of those two provinces helps offset the relocation fee. City council officially started a bidding war for the Oilers when the ceased negotiations with Katz. In the end, i see many of the councillors saying the price was ‘just to high’ to keep the oilers in the city and the focus of the council will be to try and attract a new team and owndership group. 5 years down the line, downtown will have a new arena, but no billionaire to bring in a rapidly increasing cost of a NHL franchise. The flames will have penetrated the Northern Alberta market, and our city will have an arena without an ‘arena district and other business ventures’ and an arena without a full time tenant.
    They have always said i am a pessimist, but I think i am more of a realist. Katz is a business man first. My guess is the team plays in Hamilton by 2014 season start (because the Katz group owns the Arena/or has rights to it) and then begins playing in Markham the year after.
    Congrats Edmonton. Glad I have job ops in Calgary and Vancouver, because this city has to be the worst for a educated professional under 30 to live in, in western Canada.

    • Stay off the hallucinogens. NHL is not moving a team that makes money. I understand people fears and concerns but when I read these comments about this is what we have to fear because the city of Edmonton taxpayers have not played ball with Katz who changed the deal.

      Its time for a timeout, and frankly I wish if the city was going to use taxpayer money, they would build a world class rink that we need and want, that provides a better return on their investment. There are many other options to building an arena that were not looked at, and maybe the city will begin to look outside the box to get something done. Darryl Katz has not enamoured himself to the people in this city, but we the people needs a guy like Katz and a solution needs to be found.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Hey Morese. It sure is a worst place fer a educated perfessional like yerself. Cal-gary is for sure a right place for to finding doctoring and lawyering jobs.

  • Jay Gray

    I thought Kim Krushell had the voice of a total rocket, never had seen her before, but from her voice alone I was sure she was sexy.

    Google Images – meh.

  • Regarding the casino idea, even though Katz would have to make the formal application, I thought that the city had agreed to write to the province supporting or at least enquiring about the concept of casino profits helping to support ongoing operations. I am curious as to if anything has been done and if not, why not.

    • Calvin

      The city can lobby on behalf of Katz to the ALGC but Katz himself still has to actually apply. That is what has to happen first – Katz has to apply for a casino license and then see where things go from there. He may not get approval to have his own casino because there is already one there in the Baccarat. If that is the case then he would have to either buy out the Baccarat’s owner or include him in the new arena project somehow, etc. This part is on Katz though. For him to complain to the city about this is pretty outrageous, he needs to get off his rear and start doing this himself.

  • Calvin

    This is actually turning out really good for Edmonton taxpayers. Usually alot of these owners don’t start pressing for outrageous demands until these arenas are built and the city is paying the bills already. At least in this case the city has not been hooked into a bad deal yet.

    I am actually wondering about Katz’s finances here though. The deal that was outlined in NY was a major sweetheart deal, yet Katz was not close to being satisfied. If Katz is as solvent as many of us are lead to believe then he should have had no issue picking up any extra potential costs when one sees how much he stands to make out of this. A person has to wonder how much debt the guy is carrying. I know people say that his books are private and should stay that way, but when you are doing a deal like this when the city is taking on so much risk then you better darn well know exactly who you are dealing with and if they have the ability to hold up there end of the deal.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Why don’t we just buy the Oilers ourselves as a community ownership group? It would mean that if a new arena is in the best interests of the Oilers it is also in the best interest of the community!