Edmonton Oilers

As a taxpayer in Edmonton, I’d like to hear what Daryl Katz has to say about the state of the downtown arena and why he wants more of my money to build it. I’m guessing I’m not alone.

I want to hear what Katz’s vision for the project is. I want to hear why he wants changes made to the framework of $450-million a deal that was put in place months ago. I want to hear he’s committed to doing what it takes to drag the project from conceptual drawings and slick videos to reality. And I want to hear it from him, not a hired mouthpiece.

When I expressed the same sentiment the other night on Twitter, more than one person told me I was either nuts or naïve – I think the exact terminology was that I was “dreaming in Technicolor.” Those people might be right, but I’m hoping they’re wrong. If you don’t ask (not that Katz has ever read a single word I’ve written), you don’t get.

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Given his obvious aversion to speaking publicly and his preference of staying out of the spotlight – Katz is the antithesis of former owner Peter Pocklington in that regard – I have no doubt the Rexall billionaire is reluctant to jump in front of a microphone, but if ever there was a time, I’d suggest it’s now.


I don’t want or expect Katz to unveil every single detail of the negotiations that are going on behind closed doors with members of city council. That’s not the way you do business, not that a guy who has more money in his couch cushions than I do in the bank needs any advice from me on that front.

What I do want is for Katz to make his pitch. As the individual with the most to gain (and to lose), as the individual with the most skin in the game (even if we don’t think it’s enough), I want him to step out from behind his hired help and be the front man. Explain the vision. Sell the vision. Not with a carefully worded news release. Not through his spinners. Face-to-face with the people he’ll be partnering with – the taxpayers. On the record.

Stepping in front of the public isn’t going to change the fact that the process of negotiating and the ink and paperwork on any deal will be done privately, but I’d like to see Katz do what mayor Stephen Mandel has done on more than one occasion during the process – look people in the eye and offer his take.

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I don’t see any downside for Katz. Those opposed to spending one dime of public money on a “new arena for a billionaire” aren’t going to be swayed by anything Katz has to say, even if it’s genuine and heartfelt. Those prone to ripping Katz no matter what the message will avail themselves of that opportunity if he steps forward to have his say. They are the vocal minority.

My best guess is the vast majority of people, those who’ll have a stake in the project and who have spent years trying to follow along, are willing to listen to reason. If Katz wants changes in the framework the project, it’s not too much to ask that he step outside of his comfort zone and explain why the Big Ask is getting bigger, and in his own words, to the citizens of Edmonton. Sell his vision, Make his case.

He’ll never have a more captive audience.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • book¡e

    Amazing, 4 1/2 years later these guys still have not figured this out. Seems pretty mickymouse, when you have half billion dollar project and this curly haired cowboy is dicking around with $6 million dollars on maintaince fees[ I know you amortize it over 35 years and its big bucks.
    But I would think this cost would be an expense and a write off ? Further more if you add
    10% your concession charges .So @ $20 per person , thats roughly $350 k per event. Gives you $35k per event x 200 events,,, you have $7million dollars to cover those costs.I know like all greedy owners, he,ll want to put he $7 ml in his pocket.

  • After the dust settles from this bamboozlement the only winner will be Northlands. With a lockout he is now imminent It would be a piece of cake for northands to retro fit rexall and say screw it to the city and Katz for trying to build this stupid monster downtown that no one can afford… The City cant afford it, katz will put money upfront but wants revenues and repayment every year, and a couple companies with deep pockets To pay a share… You Taxpayers that wanna soak another 30 Years of your hard earned dollars not only to pay for the arena, but also fund Mr Katz’s pockets to pay those over priced hockey players that may create another dynasty here… I’ll give you one thing Katz is not stupid, but he’d foreclose on a family member in second if he could make a buck. YOU the taxpayer, is the poor sucker that is going to get hustled…

  • Katz Group does not have the the “most skin the game”. Never has. They offered $100m towards the building of the new arena. They then switched that to $100m over 30 years. With interest that is $5.6m a year. KG also gets $20m over 10 years from the city to advertise the City of Edmonton. That is another subsidy reducing the $5.6m to 3.6m for the first 10 of the 30 year KG payments towards building the arena.

    They now want $6m a year from the COE for maintenance. On a new building!! That would bring his actual “skin in the game” to a negative number.

    Now as to the land he purchased in the entertainmement area, he will build an office tower if the COE moves into the building and pays him commercial rates for that privilege. He also wants the City to help him get a Casino license. So that he can make money off that business too.

    I have been appalled that city council has, repeatedly, kept saying yes to all of the various “asks”. Staples on what seems like the 500th column/post has written in support of the arena is now touting all of the expenses the KG is going to incur. Source of that info, psst, it’s the KG! Has anyone tried to figure out what the revenue we are “giving him” will generate? We know Fortune magazine has the Oilers at $96m operating income. 5th best in the NHL. What does an additional 2000 seats coupled with increased ticket prices for everyone (or did you think a ticket price increase for a new building/experience wasn’t coming) generate an added revenue from hockey operations? $30m? $35m? $40m?And we have not gotten to revenue from other events. $15-20m in profit . So little additional cost, $45 to $60m in added revenue.

    The fact that city councils immediate response, with the movers of the motion turning down the request (Anderson/Krushell) being two of the strongest supporters of the deal, was NFW should tell you just how outrageous the actual ask must have been.

    If we are renegotiating a new deal: Sell land for arena back to KG at our cost, write him a cheque for $125m, hell make it $150m and let him build whatever type of “iconic” “world class” building he wants.

    Expect when he hears our new “ask” he will proceed with the existing very very lucrative deal for him

    • “As the individual with the most to gain (and to lose), as the individual with the most skin in the game (even if we don’t think it’s enough), I want him to step out from behind his hired help and be the front man.”

      Yes, Katz DOES have more skin in the game than any other INDIVIDUAL. You could have made your argument, or at least tried, without massaging or ignoring the reference to “individual.”

      Why do people do that?