ARENA AND LOCKOUT MEETINGS

Jason Gregor
December 12 2012 09:45AM

We experience a variety of "worst feelings" throughout our lives, and no milk in the house when a full bowl of delicious cereal is staring you in the face is one of them. Sitting on the throne only to realize you have no toilet paper ranks up there as well, but getting your sporting hopes up and then having them crushed might be the worst.

The good news for Oilers fans is that you're likely immune to this feeling, after suffering through the last six seasons. Every October, and sometimes into November, you've allowed yourself to believe that the playoffs were a possibility. Then over the next three months you watched that dream slowly evaporate into an abyss of losing and heartache.

Today could be one of those days. The NHL and NHLPA are meeting in a secret locale while the Katz Group speaks to city council regaridng the arena deal at 9:30ish this morning.

Is it possible Edmonton fans could see progress on both fronts?

The NHL's meetings will involve a mediator so don't expect any info leaked. However, in Edmonton the Katz Group will present their case in council's chambers, so we'll at least get a sense of what they are proposing.

Meanwhile the arena deal has dragged on far too long. Hell, when it started Strudwick had a regular forehead, but now his hairline looks more like a "six-head." The good news regarding the arena is that they've finally reached a critical timeline. If they don't have a new deal in place by March, then we likely won't get a deal.

In March councilors start to position themselves for the next election, and many will use the arena as part of their platform. There are many things more important within our city, but the arena is the hot-button topic and you can bet it will be used as a pawn like children in a messy divorce.

The Katz Group was asked to appear in front of council on October 17th, but they declined. At the time Daryl Katz said,”I fear the city has approached this negotiation based on narrow political considerations rather than a genuine desire to strike a deal that is fair and makes economic sense for both sides.”

The Katz Group didn't show up and city council didn't blink. They shut down arena talks and instructed city administration to look at other options, including building the arena project alone.

So why the change of heart from the Katz Group? Most likely because they realized the city won't back down from the deal they agreed upon in October of 2011. And maybe their own views were even more narrow-minded than the city council's.

We'll find out  this morning how serious the Katz Group is about partnering with the city and getting this project started.

NEW YORK

I doubt we will hear anything of substance coming from the NHL meetings, and that might be a good thing. I don't think leaking out propaganda or rhetoric helps the negotiations. All it does it frustrate the fans and usually leads to inaccurate reactions and assessments.

The facts are that neither side respects the fans. They will tell you they do, and that you are the best fans in the world, but their actions suggest they only want you when it's beneficial for them. Three times in 18 years they have taken away the game you love, offered up no realistic explanation why and no rebates when it returned. Instead they jacked up ticket prices the past seven years.

They prey on your love of hockey. I am a season-ticket holder and I know it would be hard to just give up my tickets, mainly because I donate mine to charities, but the idea that I'm supporting them frustrates me more than ever.

Will today be a worst feeling type of day, or will we actually see some progress? I firmly believe the NHL will resolve their issues and we will see hockey in 2013, and I sense the Katz Group has a counter-proposal in hand. Will it be enough to actually put a shovel in the ground? We'll see.

DAY EIGHT

We raised another $2,000 yesterday courtesy of Gordon's bid on the MFC package. Thanks Gordon and to the MFC for donating.

Over the past few weeks I've received numerous emails from people who want to help out and bid on some items, but mentioned that $2,500 is a bit our of their price range. They asked if I could come up with some packages between $900-$1500. So today I have three kick-ass packages that are within those price ranges.

Item One.. A pub party for 10 at On The Rocks...Dr. Wang and the staff will ensure you have a great night out. Food and bevvies included. Trust me, only bid on this if you have a fun group of friends. They will treat you very well at OTR.
 

Item two: Performance package from River Valley Health. This is for the athlete in your family.

  • 1 Video Biomechanics Analysis
  • 5 (1 Hour) Performance Training sessions (1st session includes a movement analysis)
  • 5 Sports Vision Training Sessions

Item three: A Tacori Lilac Blossom Necklace.

 

All the proceeds from today will go towards The Victory Christmas Dinner. Bidding starts at 2 p.m and goes to 5:55 p.m. You can bid at 780.426.8326 or 1.800.243.1945

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Sanaa Montana
December 12 2012, 09:57AM
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This is not the fist time we've been down this road-hopefully at the end of the day the results are different.

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#2 Truth
December 12 2012, 12:59PM
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@No Clue

If keeping season ticket holders was the NHL's priority the lockout would have ended long ago.

I am a season ticket holder and I am going to keep my season tickets if the lockout lasts this year. In fact I am almost hoping it does now. RNH and Yakupov in the WJC's, hopefully OKC can pick up their game and win a championship while the young guys develop.

I also want the players and league to suffer considerable losses. If a team can't be supported in Phoenix or Florida, move them where they can. Get your heads out of your @$$es We hear you that there are current teams that are unprofitable, MOVE THEM. After all, you owners are the ones handing out the contracts.

If the players can't sufficiently live off an average of $2.4 million a year than they can go overseas for less or miss an entire year of paychecks. Better yet a couple of them can come work for me. I could use a few laborers for $15/hr.

In the meantime I'll collect my minimal interest on the season tickets, but if they even consider extending the lockout until next year, I'm out. Mark my words.

The arena: Who in Edmonton is electing some of these councilors? Somebody please explain to me how this arena could be a bad deal for Edmonton. If the City paid for the entire arena, plus a subsidy, plus Katz made all of the profit, it would still be more beneficial to the City than not. Boo hoo a billionaire may make some money. Edmonton gets at least a hint of respectability in it's downtown core. Hopefully it would be just the start

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#3 Chris
December 12 2012, 01:33PM
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No Clue wrote:

I turned in my season seats this week. It was hard to do.

I'm not short sighted, I know hockey will be back. There were a number of reasons for making my decision, but the lock-out and all its BS was the last straw. The reality is if there were games being played, I would have gotten caught up and kept my tickets.

When I returned the season seat package to the Oiler ticket office, nobody took the time to suck-up or try and keep my business. I didn't expect much really, but it seems to me that keeping the paying customers you have should be a priority.

Oh well, more cheddar for basement beers when hockey returns.

Isn't there a waiting list for season tickets? Until the oilers stop selling out every game don't expect them to care if you turn in your tickets. If you were a coyotes fan cancelling seasons tickets then it would actually make a difference.

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#4 -30-
December 12 2012, 10:55AM
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The city council meeting is hilarious. To see Karvallis shaking as he is speaking to city council... PRICELESS.

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#5 No Clue
December 12 2012, 11:01AM
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I turned in my season seats this week. It was hard to do.

I'm not short sighted, I know hockey will be back. There were a number of reasons for making my decision, but the lock-out and all its BS was the last straw. The reality is if there were games being played, I would have gotten caught up and kept my tickets.

When I returned the season seat package to the Oiler ticket office, nobody took the time to suck-up or try and keep my business. I didn't expect much really, but it seems to me that keeping the paying customers you have should be a priority.

Oh well, more cheddar for basement beers when hockey returns.

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#6 mr_nihilism
December 12 2012, 12:44PM
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@No Clue

File the indifference you received under "NHL Don't Care About the Fan", because we're the greatest fans on Earth and there's a billion lining up for those high priced tickets.

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#7 CaptainLander
December 12 2012, 01:53PM
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Hoping the NHL has a back up plan to take ECHL teams, slap NHL Jerseys on then and throw it on TV.

I will probably watch. Maybe not with same enthusiasm, but it will take some for that to return even if a new deal is struck.

Not a season ticket holder as I do not live in Edmonton, do usually buy 2 games a year when there are down here in Cowtown. Not this year.

5 game all fan boycott if this things does come back. It's a small message but it would be a message.

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#8 SuntanOil
December 12 2012, 02:25PM
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@No Clue

Every business I have ever been involved with lives by the credo that it is always much cheaper to retain an existing customer than to find a new one.

Maybe all you needed to hear was that when the NHL starts again the season ticket holders would get more than a few words painted on the ice as a thank you for their loyalty. It should be someone's job to have at least tried.

To not do so is not contempt for the fan - it is simply really really bad business practice. A sign, perhaps, that the Oilers business arm has had it too easy for too long and that they haven't even learned this one simple thing about how to build a business.

Methinks that people such as yourself might be teaching them this lesson in the coming months, so as hard as it was I hope it turns out to be the right decision for you.

Jason: Love the charity you are showing. You are a credit to the community. (and more John Short please!)

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#9 John Chambers
December 12 2012, 02:58PM
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I dunno, Gregor. I'm pretty supportive of the NHL's commitment to fixing the league to make it profitable and sustainable for 30 teams.

During the last lockout I said, "I don't care how long it takes, as long as they get it right". And I thought they did.

And I thought it was working, but if the league can smooth things out for the teams on the bottom while keeping the league competitive, I'll gladly give up a half-season of hockey to set that precedent.

Any league where only 5 teams (like Detroit, Colorado, New York, and a couple others) compete year after year because they outspend the rest of the league is b.s. I'll take a good lockout that benefits the small market fans any day.

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#10 Too Hot for hockey
December 12 2012, 03:58PM
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As I write this from Scottsdale, it is now 72 degrees F. Really, would you want to go to a hockey game when you could be lounging on a patio sipping a beer without the bother of mosquitos ... ?

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#11 sizedoesmatter
December 12 2012, 05:06PM
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The NHL would be better off to Ignore the fans than try an appease the fans with hollow thank you,s It would be a slap in the face.Just let us forget that you treated us like a rented mule.

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#12 Shredder
December 12 2012, 06:05PM
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I've been up and down about hockey, but mostly I've been of the mindset that hockey is not a sport that will last long into the future so why bother with it anymore. 6 months ago I had very different feelings because I'd been so wrapped up in it for years. I've been a die hard hockey fan for a long time, looked into the most obscure statistics and tried to find out just what the hell Willis is talking about when he says things like CORSI, etc...I've bought season tix into a team that was the worst in the league for years. I even bought season tix to an arch rival's team (Cgy) because I lived there for a few years (always an Oiler tho). I've had my heart broken countless times, but I've always respected the players, and worshipped the sport, despite never playing it myself.

Things have changed. Maybe I'm getting older, but I look to the future of sports in general and I don't see hockey as getting bigger or better. Increase revenues can't be the stat they look at, as the whole world is getting bigge with more people, more money, inflation, etc...The United States has isolated itself with its sports, and has its own major leagues (Baseball & Basketball vs. Soccer & Rugby)...however some of their sports are growing internationally (Baseball in Asia, and Basketball in Europe). I don't see hockey as a sport that is going to be hugely successful all over the world: the costs to play it are higher (ex: equipment) than any other sport, this in a world that is facing a massive money problem. The cost of buying skates alone, much less the rest of the equipment, is already 6 or 7 times higher than buying a ball and kicking it around. Moreover, it’s a sport that has proven time and again that they can’t get it together to play a game. Will it take a last minute Seahawks touchdown-like event to bring these 2 sides together? I know I still get a little stirring in the heart when I hear any optimistic discussions about the CBA. That being said...

I work in commercial real estate, and I for one would never sign a lease with a Tenant that has shown me that they go dark every 5-7 years. Bettman may be able to push these players around right now, but I believe he’s destroying the finance-ability of both the teams and anyone who wants to build an arena. Even worse about this lockout is the proximity to the last one and the ever growing social media spouting out all over the world, making this one seem so much worse even though we’re only part way through this season. The very WORST thing about this lockout is that it seems that the majority of fans are vilifying the players…the players need to be looked at as heroes, someone to look to for inspiration, someone’s name to put on the back of a jersey, someone to go cheer for and pick #1 overall in your fantasy draft (regardless of who’s been picked first). When the players are the bad guys, when they look like overpaid self-entitled millionaires who are hurting the people who serve beer right in the same arena, by looking like they're holding out for more money (whether that's justified or not)…how do you cheer for them? That's like going out and buying a Heatley jersey...

I'd like to say I'm done, but this lockout has only mearly converted me from a die hard to a casual fan. I’ll go to games because I’ve already paid for them (season tix), but I’ve sold off 75% of them to friends already, where the last 2 years I went to 37+ games. I don't see myself buying another jersey anytime soon. It’s tough because we have such a great team finally, and I’ve supported their growth in losing seasons for a long time. But the reward is a mystery if we even get it, which although is part of the fun, will be much smaller by the fact that few people outside of Canada will even care. In an international world of ever present social media, that matters.

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