Islanders and Oilers….Still tied at the hip?

In the 1980s the Islanders and Oilers were the gold standard for the NHL. They were winning Stanley Cups and their buildings were not outdated. Nassau Coliseum was built in 1972 and Rexall Place in 1974. Since both teams last won Stanley Cups neither has had much success. For a while now both organizations have been in a struggle to get new arenas to play in.

The Nassau Coliseum is too old a building and is easily in the bottom of NHL rinks. A new building is and was needed there to ensure the team can compete financially with its peers.

Last week the New York Islanders announced they would be moving.

Twenty five minutes down the road is Brooklyn, home of the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets. Although it is a facility built for basketball and will hold just north of fifteen thousand fans for hockey, it will be the Islanders home after the 2014-15 season.

For many years Charles Wang, the owner, tried to put a deal together that would make the Lighthouse Project become a reality. The Lighthouse Project was to be a four billion dollar colossus that would include a renovated Nassau Coliseum or new building, a minor league ball park, houses, offices, condos, restaurants, exhibition buildings, etc. A BIG project for Nassau County. I won’t bother with all the details on financing but for better or worse – depending on your personal viewpoint – Nassau County residents voted against it on August 1st, 2011.

It is my understanding that an NHL team can move if two situations arrive. First, the lease between the team and building must run out. Two, the venue in which the team plays out of must be outdated and not up to current NHL standards. Does this sound like a situation we are familiar with?

The Oilers are in a similar situation to the one the Islanders were in. Although Rexall place is full of great memories it is out dated. A new building won’t have the same ghosts as Rexall but if the Yankees can move into a new building with all the history in old Yankee Stadium so can the Oilers.

(Photo: WinterE229/Wikimedia/CC0 1.0)

I believe the majority of Edmontonians think a new facility is required. So far the City of Edmonton and the Katz Group haven’t been able to iron out a deal. Blame has been placed on both sides. As usually happens with these types of deals, money is the issue.

I understand the city is concerned with funding. They represent the citizens of Edmonton and do not want to get into a bad deal with an NHL club. I believe they also have a responsibility to ensure Edmonton continues to grow. I truly believe a city without a vibrant downtown isn’t going anywhere. Ever!

Although there has been some improvement to the downtown, a new arena district would kick all of downtown into development hyper drive! How do I know this? I have many examples.

Columbus, L.A, San Jose and Nashville are just a few cities where an arena district vastly improved the downtown. After the rink went up, people started moving back downtown to be closer to action that wasn’t there before. This is a recipe for a vibrant downtown.

On the other side of the negotiation sit the Katz Group. They want a deal that makes sense for them and will help them sustain their business. I get that. They mention that a slide to the negative for the Canadian dollar would severely affect them. That is true but it would affect a lot of businesses, not just a hockey team.

The Katz Group needs to become more open. The people of Edmonton feel like the Oilers belong to everyone in the city. When you are the owner of the Oilers you need to deal with that. I would suggest a yearly press conference with all media invited, not handpicked targets. Might not be a lot of fun but this is the way it is when you own the Oilers.

I don’t think the Oilers will move but I also don’t want to even get to that point. Both the Islanders and Oilers have great history but unlike the Islanders now I want the Oiler’s history to continue to develop in Edmonton, not some other location. Time for both sides to give a little and do what is best both for the team and city.

Previously by Jason Strudwick

    • justDOit

      Clearly, the first step that any new political party should make when trying to gain popularity, is to alienate 1/3 of the province by being ‘anti-Edmonton’.

      Let’s save the low-brow, political rhetoric for the comments section at (fox north), mkay?

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      I don’t believe you missed it. I believe you tied and the system alphabetically sorted the comments by user name.

      As with many things in life, and similarly to Dawn’s comment, blame the system!

  • justDOit

    Leave political affiliations out of the thread. If you have a point to make, you can make it without sidetracking to express political sentiments about certain parties.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    This is a blog. Comment what you want. Be it idiotic or in this case… idiotic.

    The sooner the new CBA is negotiated, the sooner the arena deal will be done. Now way it happens the other way around.

  • justDOit

    @Struds: I thought the Columbus arena was funded privately? Not really a good example for an Edmonton arena discussion.

    And I’m pretty sure I’ve read that their downtown ‘rejuvenation’ project didn’t have the intended effect, and that what development did happen was not the result of the arena project.

  • chibbs

    I have low hopes of the arena deal getting done now, with the spotlight on Katz and his political contributions. Alberta gov’t can’t do anything because of it (no casino lisence for sure now). Municipal gov’t can only really backpeddle, otherwise they will be accused of taking bribes to get the deal done (the original deal was pretty nice for Katz). And as much as I dislike the wild rose, I don’t blame them. Katz was the one who gave the huge chunk of cash.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Oilers alone created 18 million in profit from the Coliseum this past season. Why let Katz control 50 million+ over 200 events a year in the new facility? The city should build this on their own and put the proceeds to better use.

    Why line one mans pockets when the whole city can benifit from this new facility. Screw Katz, he can just be a tenant in the facility Edmonton built.

    • Amen, and great profile pic quicksilver ballet

      Struds, I like your intent but it’s a bit simplistic to suggest both sides need to give a little.
      The city is GIVING A LOT, in fact too much!

      It’s Katz that has to give, but i guess his EGO must be getting in the way, or he has his eyes on another prize somewhere else.

  • chibbs

    I agree with Quicksilver but I would like some assurances from Bettman that the NHL has no intentions of allowing Katz to move the team as long as he is being offered a fair rental agreement.

    Yes, I know that the city would be offered a new team at some time, but I don’t want a new team.I want this team.

  • Well, who needs this arena deal more? The Oilers or the city? The reasons that the Oilers need a new building are obvious. For the city, they’ve tried to revitalize downtown Edmonton many times with limited success. I don’t see how a new arena is not the shot in the arm that downtown needs. Having thousands of people milling around downtown Edmonton 40 plus times during winter time when usually everybody races home to hide under a blanket from the cold. A new arena would be a great draw for Oiler fans from out of town as well. Hotels, restaurants, etc would benefit. Rexall Place doesn’t have a whole lot to offer in terms of amenities close to the arena and that represents a lot of entertainment dollars not being generated.