It was nice to see a little humility expressed by John Karvellas, Daryl Katz’s point man for the proposed downtown arena project, today at city hall. And it was equally satisfying to see mayor Stephen Mandel and council vote 11-2 in favor of re-opening talks with the Katz Group.
Today’s events were, at the very least, better than more grandstanding, although some of that was provided by councilors Kerry Diotte and Linda Sloan, or veiled threats about the Oilers leaving town if Katz doesn’t get the rink he wants, although some observers interpreted comments by team president Patrick LaForge as that.
While nothing that transpired today constitutes a done deal, or anything close to it, agreeing to resume talks is a start and we’ll have to see if Katz takes the ball and runs with it – he’ll get his chance Jan. 23 – after a meeting that had a distinctly different feel to it than the “them” and “us” sessions of the past.
Karvellas not only announced the Katz Group is withdrawing its $6-million annual ask in the form of an operating subsidy and would put the numbers they’ve been throwing around in front of a mediator if the city would do the same, there was a lot more “ask” and a lot less “demand” in his tone.
A MATTER OF TRUST
“We are trying to be open and regain the trust we lost a few months back,” said Karvellas. “We’re not playing games with you, we’re not being sneaky. We’re trying to regain the trust that we lost. We realized coming in here today that we had a trust issue, that what we put forward was not believed.”
While I’m guessing Mandel and council, not to mention fans, would like to have heard that sentiment expressed by Katz himself rather than Karvellas, it’s a reasonable facsimile and a starting (again) point – if the sentiment translates to good faith bargaining by the Katz Group. That, we’ll have to see.
There’s a deal to be made here. The wildcard, as I see it, is the $100-million in provincial funding that’s always been factored in as part of the overall funding but that isn’t yet committed. What if it isn’t forthcoming?
If that commitment isn’t in place, the Katz Group could make great strides in putting some bite in what Karvellas said by simply proposing to council that they’ll kick in another $50 million if the city will do the same. Too much to ask?
Did we really need cut-by-cut updates via Twitter from the World Junior Camp in Calgary? I think not, but we got them name by name this afternoon. Immediate information? Absolutely. Necessary? Not so sure.
That said, the updates today weren’t nearly as much of an intrusion as the dubious made-for-TV tradition that has reporters and cameras chasing down disappointed kids after the early morning final cuts that are made before every tournament.
I enjoy the stage TSN has provided the WJC, and I understand why they want (and usually get) access to just about everything as part of their deal, but duly documenting the disappointment of bleary-eyed teenagers by sticking a lens in their face as they’re packing their bags doesn’t do a damn thing for me.
. . . It’s terrific to see the organization and teammates rallying around OKC Barons rookie defenseman Brandon Davidson, who is undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Taylor Fedun, who has embarked on his own compelling comeback road after suffering a badly broken leg last season, Yann Danis and Dane Byers, among others, are sporting close-to-the bone haircuts in support of Davidson, 21, whose diagnosis was made public Nov. 1. Fedun’s fashion statement is here.
. . . If you’re looking for a unique Christmas present that you won’t find on any shelf in any store and the opportunity to support local charities that are helping people who really need it, consider jumping in on Jason Gregor’s Month of Giving weekdays between now and Dec. 21. If you’ve missed it until now, the link is here.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.