You have to hand it to people when they get a hard job done. Take the bravest man on Earth for example, who cleans out a cobra pit in the video above as though he is raking leaves. Slightly less snake related – but certainly a hard job too – the plans for Rexall Place: Downtown Edition have been moved forward by the City of Edmonton and the Katz Group.
The proposed downtown arena took a major step closer to reality Wednesday night when city council approved the terms of a deal it wants to negotiate to build the project.
A 17-part motion calls for a maximum cost of $450 million, with the Oilers owner Katz Group putting in $100 million and another $125 million coming from a ticket tax.
The total city contribution would still be $125 million, but in a major change most of that money would come from taxes on businesses in the facility, redirected subsidies now going to Rexall Place or higher parking revenues.
A community revitalization levy, based on property taxes generated by new development around the site, will only contribute $20 million, with any surplus going to other downtown upgrades such as improving Jasper Avenue.
The deal, passed 10-3, would also include a 30-year location agreement, four weeks of city usage each year that might go to Northlands, Canadian Finals Rodeo or other events, and potential revenue sharing.
Officials from the city and the Katz Group have been meeting a couple of times a week since council gave the go-ahead to preliminary talks in January.
”We know there are known knowns: there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns: that is to say we know there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Department briefing, Feb. 12, 2002
We don’t pretend to understand politics. Getting any sort of decision out of the political process can be a time consuming and frustrating process to say the least. And the reams of print devoted to this project so far only scratches the surface of the debate that has gone on out of the public eye. As private citizens we will never know the bulk of what went on behind closed doors between the Katz Group and City brass.
But it is clear that they have been able to come together and significantly move the chains forward on what will be one of the biggest developments in Edmonton history. By no means is this a done deal and there will certainly be months of painfully slow debate to follow, but the City has started to point in a new and exciting direction.
And that right there is pretty sweet.