LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Sweet Jordan Eberle’s flaxen mane – the distant future shall soon be upon us! Still think its 1974? Peep this video of Quadrocopters that have been programmed to play table tennis with one another. As you watch these things pinging back and forth like a robotic Forrest Gump, ask yourself if we really aren’t on the verge of a Brave New World.

Soon enough Terminator and Robocop will be for sale in your local Best Buy and we will all be complaining about it." A new Terminator has been made? I just bought the old Terminator at Christmas and it was twice the price!"

That’s the future for you we suppose. Speaking of pondering the distant future now, the Downtown Arena debate is closing in on a key deadline and needs all our help.

D-DAY CLOSING IN

Those in favour of the Downtown Arena may or may not realize that the next milestone in the project going forward is the April 6 meeting of City Council. Though the bulk of the negotiations between the Katz Group and City officials have occured behind closed doors, some Councillors have complained publicly that they do not have enough information to consider at this point to approve a deal.

And so the negotiations and posturing continue amongst well meaning folk who all believe they are acting in the best interests of the City of Edmonton. At the same time a group of increasingly vocal critics have been promoting their contention that not a single cent of public money should be put into the project.

And is so often the case, those opposed to the arena are making themselves heard while the silent majority – 84% of OilersNation readers believe Edmonton will get a new arena – continue to be just that.

Silent and the majority.

You have to wonder if we will get involved at some point in the process.

THE BIG PICTURE

There is a larger issue in play than "where are the Oilers going to be playing when they finally make the playoffs in 2019?" Really we are contemplating the kind of City in which we want to live in the not so distant future. 

The proposed Arena represents a rare opportunity to transform downtown and reap the benefits for generations to come. A Downtown Arena would become the gathering place for tens of thousands of Edmontonians a night – hundereds of nights per year. This will lead to many more projects in the surrounding area and finally Edmonton will be building upwards and not outwards.

That’s value even non hockey fans should be able to appreciate.

At the same time it will secure the Oilers remaining in Edmonton for the long term. Think it would be hard to move the team now? Try putting a new arena in place that is funded with a partial loan from the City. The Oilers will be here long enough that Wanye Jr’s kids* will be able to swoon over the stickhandling skills of Jordan Eberle IV well into the next millenium.

If the Oilers are to hit their target of having a new building when the current lease expires in 2014, the time to make a decision is now. You may think ‘who cares about the Oilers deadlines? They just want to distract us all down the stretch from the hockey on the ice. We can build it any old time.’

Consider the fact that with the recession coming to a close and the Alberta economy on the upswing, there is real risk of skyrocketing construction costs. As more and more large scale construction projects get the green light, the competition for materials and labour increases and the cost of the Downtown Arena rises accordingly.

Securing lower construction costs now is of interest to all concerned – the Katz Group, the City and potential tenants in the surrounding District. If public funds may get involved, then getting the arena at the cheapest price tag possible should be in everyone’s best interest.

*Due in 20f4

A CALL TO ARMS

The clip above is a bang on take by Rick Mercer about how us young folks don’t ever voice our opinions and consequently don’t even appear on the radar of politicians. The Downtown Arena issue is one of the hottest political topics amongst young Edmontonians in the past 25 years and yet most of us are content to complain about it on blogs or over the proverbial water cooler – but would never dream of contacting anyone involved in the process.

Figuring out a way to fund this project that is fair to all Albertans needs to be determined quickly and the construction needs to get underway soon. Or it needs to be put to bed and we can all begin the process of moving to Winnipeg – who looks to be getting their team back any day now.

So If you think that the arena should go forward, let someone know. If you think that public funds shouldn’t be used to glue a single gold tile to the new concourse floor – shoot someone an email. Shock the hell out of everyone and get involved.

  • Call 311 and let ’em have it via the old telephone.
  • Take your support to the next level by writing the Edmonton Journal – lletters@edmontonjournal.com
  • Do the impossible and email City Council – councillors@edmonton.ca – and tell them what you want.

The arena we might get built just might be our own.

  • This arena business better get settled soon or there’ll be hell to pay.

    *Nicely done! It always freaks me out when you pen up a thoughtful, well written (by non-pro standards anyways) article. Which makes me wonder why you haven’t built an article props button yet. Because I would prop the h3ll out of this one.

    *Props article in his mind*

    **May be clinically insane**

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If the Oilers added 25.00 per ticket for the next four yrs that would raise that last 100 million they need. What’s another $25 on top of what we’re paying already. The building is 85% corporate anyways, that’s 100 million lopped off that mortgage before the building even opens. Lets just see how strong this seat registry program really is.

    • $25 is alot to those who can barely afford the ridiculous prices already established.

      could the city and katz look at other corporations for funding/bulding a portion? maybe they have, i dont know.

      the one thing i agree with wayne about is the price jump that we will see in construction sooner rather than later. for that reason alone posturing must stop and intelligence must prevail.

      wayne,

      89% of nation readers are in favour but is that a fair sample group….i mean im not on here cause i hate hockey and want the oilers to move.

      • Fair point Mr. Mayor. I wasn’t suggesting that because 81% of Nation readers want an arena that it reflects the same % of Edmontonians.

        Rather I was suggesting that if 81% want an arena, some of us should tell the people that are in charge of getting one built that we exist in numbers.

  • My only concern about a downtown arena would be the dearth of extremely poor quality and sketchy strip clubs nearby. Is the sketchy one by Rexall even still open or has the health board done the sporting thing and closed that place down?

    I know Alberta is supposed ot be rat free but I’ve always asserted that strip clubs in northern Alberta were exempt from this rule.

    *thinks fondly of “Pinky’s Show Palace” in the Kinsgway mall parking lot

    • John Chambers

      Perhaps with a new arena they could erect a new, 21st Century strip club with all the glamour of the Spearmint Rhino on the doorstep of La Grande Palais Rexall. One so posh and decadent that it would enchant the dreams of Ft McMurray rig workers during their extended work period; a Xanadu of cocaine and lap danses that would put les Montrealaises to shame.

      This really is the beginning of a Brave New World. Like the Quadrocopters, we just need people of vision who can help execute.

  • I really want to get on the new arena bandwagon.

    . . . I only hesitate because I haven’t heard anything of proposals to cover the full cost.

    Though I think The City should support it – shouldn’t we have some idea where the $$ are coming from. The Katz Group is private, asking for Public money. They must have a plan but why the secrecy?

    450M cost
    100M Katz
    125M ticket tax
    125M The City
    . . . 100M from ?

  • fuck off

    Edmonton building upwards instead of outwards is the best part of a new downtown arena!!

    Seriously

    BTW Wanye, awesome article! It’s about time someone prodded our silent apathy.

  • Ender

    Wanye wrote:

    The Oilers will be here long enough that Wanye Jr’s kids* will be able to swoon over the stickhandling skills of Jordan Eberle IV well into the next millenium.

    Edmonton Oilers 3000? You’re even more optimistic today than usual, Big Guy.

    On that note, though, props for including the e-mail to city council. I had no idea that being heard was so easy. If everyone on here took the few seconds it takes to chirp this board and put together a single e-mail to city council instead (same time investment, just different mouse-clicks), I’m pretty sure the results would be worth it. Before the next ice age, even.

  • John Chambers

    I’m a huge Oiler fan and as much as I would love to be part of the process and express my opinions I can’t as I do not live in Edmonton and do not pay taxes there so my opinion shouldn’t count. However I did live in Edmonton for a couple of years and it was and still is one of my more favorite places to live. I used to live right by Oliver Square two blocks off Jasper. I remember that the further East you go the more run down a dirty the area seemed to get. The only highlight was the City Center Mall which in reality if you weren’t aware that a mall was there you would likely miss it all together. This is my point, there is nothing there that promotes the city in a way that is noticeable to the public. If anything if makes you think of how dirty a City it is. I think Katz is presenting the City and Citizens with a huge opportunity to be part of something amazing. I like how people keep talking about the money situation. If the city and the citizens don’t put money in it would not truly be there’s and wouldn’t represent something they can be proud of. Don’t think for a second that Katz doesn’t have the connections or means to find investors that would be willing to finance his project. I’m sure he knows many and wouldn’t have an issue getting things underway. He wants everyone, the whole city to be part of this.

    I think it would be a great idea for local companies to sponsor the more visual parts of the arena monuments, sports demonstration areas, home and visitor locker rooms etc.

    Just think about it.

      • John Chambers

        I don’t know if it needs to go to that extreme but you want to increase the enjoyment level of the hockey experience, increase the number of people who can attend the games, and I think something similar, without rising tickets prices a lot higher than they already are, would give people a sense of more for their money. I remember reading a article not long ago about attending a game in Tampa. Basically you could get 4 tickets for the price of one good Oiler ticket in a new stadium, that sounded like an amazing experience, and because of that the writer said anytime he was going to be in Tampa from now on he would try and get tickets regardless of who was playing. That’s the kind of experience I think Edmonton could put out there for everyone.

        • Build a new building and slash the prices by 25%? I can’t see how else you are going to buy 4 tickets for the price of one? Riiiight.

          If the Oil had Tampa’s market I can see this happening but they can charge whatever they want here.

          And they will.

          • John Chambers

            I don’t really see prices going down at all, I just wanted more emphasis on the more for your money side of things. Lets face it Tampa never sells out and has probably one of the lowest attendance records in the NHL. They are also one of the areas in the US that go hit the hardest by the economy especially the housing sector.

    • John Chambers

      Could ask some of the girls from diamonds to visit council members and try to convince them. I don’t know if it will work for the female council members but I’m willing to bet there are at least a couple that would be willing to try out in the minors as it were.

  • The fact of the matter is the Oilers NEED a new Arena period. This needs to happen, if not then we wont be cheering them on in a couple of years When Hall and Comp. are playing playoff hockey.

  • Wax Man Riley

    We don’t need a new arena. Why? So a billionaire owner can have a palace for his million dollar babies to play in? Rexall is fine and this city doesn’t need to have a world-class facility. It has gotten this far without it.

    Lets put $200M in to renovate Rexall so that it looks exactly the same but has a new facade on the concessions. Then with the $250M that is saved, we can pad the pockets of Northlands board members and Council members.

    While we are at it, what’s with all of this LRT expansion? Why do we need to expand the mass transit system when we have all of these roads we can use? Lets make it mandatory for everyone to drive. What can’t afford a Lexus like me? Then you deserve to have a sub-standard mass transit system.

    Let’s keep building out to make it impossible to get anywhere in city without running into 25 construction sites that are fixing all of the roads that we continue building.

    The downtown core is fine. Don’t forget of all of the entertainment there: Oil City…That place is all class! The Bank…Can we find another place to stuff all of the faux-successful playas in the city.

    I like the city the way it is: Stagnant, conservative and backwards thinking. This new arena/entertainment/shopping/living district is a bad idea. We already have places to live on the North Side, places to shop on the South side and places to dine at Joeys and Earls, and we can spend 3 hours in the car every day driving around the city in our giant red-neck trucks that we don’t really have a need for but we like to be the biggest thing on the roads even though we work in an office building and have no need to actually haul anything. We don’t need anything new or forward-thinking.

    Sincerely,

    All the backwoods, conservative, Podunk, hicks that have been making city planning decisions for the last 35 years

    • Ender

      Me and my (empty) truck that’s outside in the office parking lot aren’t sure whether to resent you or not.

      [mumble, murmur]

      We’ve decided to give you props anyway. Who needs roads, right? That’s what 4×4 is for.

      [congratulates self for completely understanding argument]

      • Wax Man Riley

        Thank you for understanding my tongue-in-cheek feelings about our fine city.

        It seems that 30 years ago, the planners were a bit more forward-thinking than they are now, with the construction of a subway system (which I don’t totally agree with as far as the cost/effectiveness it has delivered, but it was progressive), the construction of Northlands Coliseum, Commonwealth stadium, Manulife Place, etc…. It seemed that the city wanted or tried to be world-class back then. Where did the progressive attitude go? Did it die in the 80’s with the emergence of the housing crisis?

        For the record, I understand the need for a 4×4 with the winters we have. You can believe me that I will never buy another 2wd vehicle as long as I live here. My little Mazda is great on gas, but I’ll take my old 4×4 Ford on the nasty weeks any day (or week).

  • Wax Man Riley

    So according to Alberta wage and salary survey council members would be considered gov’t officals and would make $110,000 + depending on tenure. And how many day and hours do they put in a year? Anyone know the answer?

  • Wax Man Riley

    Half the NHL teams play in markets that dont support hockey. Even an organization as idiotic as the NHL would not allow a team that sells out every night (even when icing a team of the caliber of the current Oilers) to relocate. Its a primitive extorsion move by an organization the has dropped to the lowest achievable level on all fronts.

    • Perhaps you missed the part that said “think they are difficult to move now” inferring they are already a tough relocation to sell for anyone with a sentient brain stem.

      Easy pal – no one is moving this craptacular squadron as much as the hockey loving part of our brains would 1/100,000,000,000 want in favour of a better team.

  • cambosmash

    Just sent a couple letters! I don’t know if this actually works, but can we draft up a letter to send to council? Or does that have far less effect?

    That would take all that difficult “writing” out of the equation.

  • This is what I just wrote to city hall… Thanks for the motivation wayne!

    Good Day Councillors,

    I am a 32 year old father of two children. I live in the Beverly Heights community, I shovel my walks, I pay my taxes and I contribute to making my community a better place for people to live and children to play. Up until this point I have kept the voicing of my opinion, concerning the Edmonton arena debate, to friends and family. The reason for me writing this is to make my voice heard in the hopes that it will be joined by many other voices and in the hope that it will help push towards city council providing the approval for a new arena in downtown Edmonton on April 6th.

    Say what you will about the Edmonton Oilers, Darryl Katz and the state of professional sports as a whole. I for one don’t typically feel the warm fuzzies towards millionaire athletes and billionaire owners. I believe that a large portion of them are out of touch with reality and many of them don’t realize how lucky they are to be paid millions for playing a game made for boys, as grown men. That being said and my disdain aside. I think that Edmonton without the Oilers would be a less desirable place to be and I don’t for one second think that the Katz Group would hesitate to find another city for the team to call home.

    For me the Oilers are a unifying symbol here in Edmonton. I was born in Calgary and moved to just outside of Edmonton when I was 10. I once had my bicycle tires flattened in the bike racks, as an 8 year old, for wearing an Oilers’ jersey to school. My connection to the team runs deep into my psyche. By the time I was old enough to really enjoy and appreciate the glory days, they were over. My connection to the Oilers lies in the teams of the 90’s, 00’s, the team of today and that glorious run to the Stanley Cup Final in ’06. Those were wonderful times to be a hockey fan in Edmonton. That is all that anyone could talk about from that April to September. The sheer joy and agony of that summer now permeates my psyche just like those flat tires do.

    That run provided me with an additional sense of pride of what it meant/means to be an Edmontonian. I love Edmonton. I love the river valley and parks system. I love the art gallery. I love the Legislature grounds, the Muttart and all of the communities that surround these icons. I love that we are the provincial capital. I love our world class university. I love the world class trades schools we have. I love the entrepreneurial spirit that gives rise to the numerous small businesses that I frequent and the large ones that have turned into global success stories. I love that we know how great of a City we are even though it is not always viewed as that by others. I love that when we put on events of all types sizes they are always a success because of how our citizens plan, volunteer, and support them. I love that there are people who stand up and question big decisions like this one to make sure that it gets done right. They are all a source of deep pride. (What I don’t love are the oil refineries on the edge of town, the urban sprawl and the pot holes… but those are discussions for another day!)

    As much pride as I have for everything Edmonton, our arena is old and antiquated. Edmonton and the Oilers won’t be better off with the status-quo. I’m not for one second going to concede that we shouldn’t worry about the magnitude and cost of a project like this. We should worry. It is big and expensive. But when I say worry I say think rationally, ask tough questions and don’t settle for maybes. So far it seems like this is the job that city council has done and I thank you for that. But I really think it would be a mistake to turn our backs and say “no, build it with your own money Darryl Katz”. Does it not take a community to build something great? It most definitely does.

    From where I stand, as a fan of the Oilers and a tax paying citizen, a CRL sounds like a good idea. Use new tax revenue to pay for part of the building and then reap the financial benefits after the CRL runs its course. It will take an area that is a dirty sore in the heart of the city and turn it into what may be the one of the shining gems of future Edmonton. Nothing is ever without risk, and this is no different, but there are smart risks to take and this appears to be one of them.

    I hope the arena is approved. I hope that my two boys have pride run deep into their psyche’s. I hope you can all agree with me. Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely
    Name
    Proud Edmontonian
    Phone #

  • cambosmash

    I wrote an email to Kerry Diotte that the arena project is a watershed point for this town. He did respond.

    It appears to me that opposition to the arena is shallow, but vocal. So I have added my voice to the for camp, I encourage others to do the same.

    David S. has been doing some good work adding a voice of reason to the debate on the Journal blogs I have noticed.

  • Vanguard

    From the Edmonton Sun:

    “Thousands of people are calling the city to pipe up about a proposed downtown arena — and the majority are endorsing the project.

    Edmonton has logged around 3,099 calls and e-mails through its 311 system since Thursday.

    City spokesman Robert Moyles said 1,847 of those people were in support of the arena, while another 180 would be willing to endorse it with conditions. He said 1,029 Edmontonians opposed to the plans called in.

    The remaining 43 Edmontonians dialed 311 to get more information on the project.

    “Since Thursday we’ve had more calls come in than we’ve had in the past six weeks,” Moyles said.

    Until now, the city had only been logging around 100 arena- related calls per week.

    In contrast, the city receives around 1,000 calls per week on topics like transit.

    The Katz Group wants to bring a new, $450-million hockey arena to downtown Edmonton.

    The arena and a surrounding entertainment district would sit between 101 Street and 104 Street, bordered by 104 Avenue and 105 Avenue.

    The controversial proposal will be debated — and possibly decided — by city council Wednesday.

    The looming decision is likely why 311 lines are starting to heat up, Moyles said.

    Concerns from callers will be passed along to councillors”

    Coincedence the calls came right after this article, I think not! Well done Wayne, looks like the Nation has answered your call.

  • Now THIS is a good idea. Would you like to by my chief strategist as imaginary Mayor of Edmonton? The position incredibly has not been filled*

    *That’s what the Diamonds Strippers said