With the downtown arena issue a hot-button topic in Edmonton and especially for fans of the Edmonton Oilers, it isn’t surprising to see websites cropping up specifically dedicated to advocating for or against the downtown arena.
First off, I probably should point out that OilersNation is undoubtedly going to continue talking about the arena issue. We’ve all chimed in at various points, and I’m delighted to pass on a chronological list of those articles:
- July 22, 2010 – RX2: The Arena Deal Takes A Positive Step (Gregor)
- July 22, 2010 – Grab Bag: Arena, Souray, Brule, Math (Willis)
- April 27, 2010 – Downtown Arena: Who’s Paying For It? (Gregor)
- February 25, 2010 – Daryl Katz Thinks You Won’t Bother Checking What He Says (Willis)
- December 11, 2009 – A City In Ruins (Baron Wanye Von Gretz IV)
- September 12, 2009 – Patrick Laforge, Northlands, and the New Arena (Willis)
- August 23, 2009 – People In Edmonton Don’t Want (To Pay For) A New Arena (Willis)
- July 3, 2009 – New Arena: Nothing To Do With Heatley (Bingofuel)
There may be more (surely there’s at least one of Wanye’s photo-shop articles I’ve missed), but that’s what a quick look through our search bar provides. In any case, onward!
Pro Arena: #yegarena
I first came across #yegarena after the Oilers mentioned it in their official Twitter feed. It’s registered to Paul Poulsen, a guy involved in more websites than I am, and a fervent supporter of the proposed downtown arena. He’s previously written articles in support of the arena and often discussed the issue on his blog and in his Twitter feed.
As for the website itself, it’s nicely designed with an attractive layout, and despite being less than a week old it already has three articles, all with an upbeat/inspirational tone to them.
Aside from the articles, Poulsen’s biography, and a contact form, the website also has two other main sections:
- Why downtown? which lays out the case for an arena district in the heart of Edmonton.
- How Can I Help? which encourages writing letters and e-mails in support of the arena and provides contact information for city councillors, MLA’s, MP’s, the Premier, the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun. The page also advocates supporters of the arena to copy those letters to the Katz Group and provides contact information for them as well.
The site’s still young and we’ll see how it develops, but so far the three articles have focused on how the arena can be a win for both Katz and the City of Edmonton, encouraged correspondence with decision makers, and stressed that the arena is simply one part of the downtown renewal proposed by Katz & Co.
Anti Arena: Why Downtown?
Why Downtown? Is a few months older than #yegarena, and I came across it when a link was posted to it on Battle of Alberta. The site is written by BofA blogger Andy Grabia, who has been writing about the proposed new arena for nearly four years and has been highly sceptical of information provided by the Katz group and whether a new arena is in the best interests of the city. Grabia also has a Twitter account and has written about Edmonton-area issues on his blog.
The website makes it clear in its introductory post that it is both pro-Edmonton and pro-downtown, but that it opposes the arena project “as currently proposed” for a variety of reasons.
The bent of the writing is different than at #yegarena; where the former takes an inspirational tone, Grabia’s site gets into details – citing case studies and parsing statements made by both the public policy makers and people associated with Katz and the Oilers.
Aside from the articles, Grabia’s biography and a contact form, the website also has three other main sections:
- Resources links to fact sheets, some created by Grabia but the majority independent of him and all relevant to the arena project.
- Glossary, which passes on links to some of more humorous statements made by advocates of a downtown arena.
- What Can I Do? provides contact information for the mayor, city councillors and MLA’s. Two items in particular separate it from the similar section at #yegarena – first, the contacts are fewer in number, and second that Grabia doesn’t bother to push a particular point of view on this page but rather highlights the need for democratic involvement (“Wherever you stand on the arena issue, we encourage you to get involved in your democracy, and let your elected representatives know how you feel.”)
The site is also still rather young, and Grabia has indicated that other writers will be joining so it remains to be seen how it develops. To date, however, an emphasis has been placed on rational evaluation and evidenced-based decision making.