STOP THE INSANITY… AND A BATTLER

It’s true, we are all special in our own way, and usually we can’t stand the differences in others. It’s a vicious cycle, and at times I just want to put my hands up and shout, "Enough."

The Arena debate has become too much for me. Both sides have become so blinded by their goal that they can’t even be rationale anymore.

Can we please just come to a conclusion.

I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand it is a big decision, but can we please stop pretending, "This is the most important decision our city will make in the next 50 years," because if it is then our city won’t have accomplished much in the next half century.

This debate has reached the point where the extremists for both sides are reaching for anything to back up their stance.

LINE IN THE SAND

This debate has gone on for years and we haven’t seen much real progress, for either side.

PRO ARENA

  • I respect that you want the rink, because I want it as well, but please stop implying that if the rink isn’t built the Oilers are leaving town. Where are they going? Kansas City, yes I’m sure those fans will sell out the rink every night, especially in the 6th consecutive year with no playoffs. And I’m sure they will pay $225/night for lowerbowl tickets. Not happening, so stop the subtle fear mongering.

    There are no other cities in Canada who have a rink, and do you think good ole Gary Bettman is going to let one of the few teams that make money just up and leave. Have you not been paying attention to the Phoenix Coyotes situation…Bettman won’t let a team losing $30 million a year leave, but you think that he’ll just let the Oilers leave town? Be better.

    Talk about the good points of the arena, but don’t stoop to the low level of subtle threats. It’s not helping your cause.
     

  • Daryl Katz get in front of your idea. People want to believe in you, but they can’t believe in someone they never see or hear. I don’t expect you to stand in front of the media every day, but is it that hard to stand up once, answer a few questions and tell the fans why you want the rink. I saw you speak at city council. Everyone could see your passion. You were well spoken. I understand public speaking isn’t your thing, but it is clear you are a smart man, and you must realize that talking to the fans and citizens of Edmonton would help your dream more than hurt it.
     
  • Why no mention of a Green Arena like Wanye was touting a couple years back?
     
  • What happened to the talk that there would be an "affordable seating" section in the new rink. Is it still going to happen, and if so, why haven’t you kept talking about it. You need to keep mentioning some of the unique aspects you originally said would be in place.

ANTI ARENA

  • Your argument that "the billionaire" should pay for everything has little depth, and from where I sit, it comes across as jealousy as much as anything else.
     
  • Stop implying that the MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) will take away money from education and healthcare. MSI is for infrastructure, it won’t cost any teachers or healthcare workers their jobs. Spokesperson for municipal affairs for the government of Alberta, Michelle Davio, explained to me exactly how it works.

"One of the eligible categories to use MSI funding is for parks, recreation, and sports facilities. There’s a criteria, but assuming that it meets the criteria, that would be an acceptable use. Building a school falls under another budget."

  • In 2013 Davio said Edmonton is expected to receive $187 million in MSI funding and likely the same or more in the following years. She also said that the city doesn’t need to use the $100 million in one shot; it can be spread out over years. So Edmonton could use $10 million for the next ten years, or $25 million over the next four. You can debate the $10 million could go towards other infrastructure, but at least argue the actual yearly number. If it is $10 million a year that is 5.3% of the total MSI every year. It won’t cripple the city.
     
  • If you are opposed to the funding structure of the arena, please submit a viable alternative. It is easy to say you don’t like deal, but I’ve yet to see any report with any real substance as to what would be a better route. I think most would agree our downtown needs to improve, so show us your plan, maybe it is better.

BOTH SIDES

  • How come no one came up with a plan for cost overruns? Did you honestly believe this project wouldn’t come in over budget? Someone needed to have that in place, and then we wouldn’t have had to deal with people going nuts over the new $485 million price tag. I said from day one we knew it would cost more than $450 million, so how come no one had a contingency plan on how to pay for overruns?
     
  • Can someone tell us what the timetable is regarding the MSI. When will the provincial government decide if the city can use the $100 million? Considering the MSI has been around since 2007, there must have been a schedule or protocol in previous years on when they approved or vetoed any proposed projects. The money is distributed in June, according to Davio, so did they approve the arena under the MSI last month or not?

    Councillor Bryan Anderson hinted that a decision was coming soon, but why not be more specific. I’m guessing he must know the timetable of said decision.
     

  • Most Edmontonians want the truth. We might not like it, but like most things in life if you hear the truth at least we know where we stand. It has been two years and the progress has been laughable. Even Steve Tambellini thinks you are taking too long to make a decision.

I respect that this is a big decision, with many moving parts, but can we please come to a resolution either way. Other cities have made this decision, for or against, in a much shorter time frame.

Make a decision and live with it, and hopefully it is the right one.

QUICK HITS

Brent Peterson was selected 12th overall in 1978 by the Detroit Red Wings. He played four years of junior in the WCHL (now the WHL), two with the Edmonton Oil Kings and two in Portland. He tallied 34 goals and 112 points in 69 games as a 19-year-old in Portland before being drafted by the Wings as a 20-year-old.

He spent 11 seasons in the NHL between Detroit, Buffalo, Vancouver and Hartford. Like many high-scoring juniors he had to change his game to stick in the NHL. He became a checking forward and played 620 games.

He retired in the summer of 1989 and became an assistant coach that fall with the Whalers. He was there for two years, before he went back to Portland. He spent the next seven season in Portland, the first two as a co-coach and then the last five as head coach.

In 1998 Barry Trotz hired him as his assistant in Nashville and he was there for 12 years before he had to step down because of Parkinson’s disease. 

TSN also did a wonderful feature on Peterson as well. You can watch it here.

For years Peterson didn’t tell many people he had Parkinson’s, but recently he decided it would be better if he became a spokesperson for the devastating disease. I’ve seen how destructive Parkinson’s can be and Brent has become a great spokesman for this disease.

He is an incredible story teller and he will be in town on Monday, August 13th to golf in the Liberty Classic charity tournament to support Parkinson’s.

You and a friend can play with him and hear some great stories of his playing and coaching days.

Today during my show we will auction off a two-some to play with Peterson. He’ll join me on air at 2:20 to talk about his battle with Parkinson’s and to share a few stories.

If you want to bid on the golf package you can call 780.426.8326 starting at 2 p.m.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Is anyone actually surprised with all the hubbub? It serves Edmonton right for all the polarizing pettiness. When you put anything in the hands of pathetic self-engrossed politicians you know they are going to maximize every opportunity to yap.

    I just hope the voters of Edmonton remember who were the flies in the ointment during the next civic election. Katerina just looks like a prick even before he opens his mouth.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Thanks DKO for posting an impassioned and intelligent speech from the Mayor.

    Translation: Enough with the bullship!

    Three coucillors still voting against it. Tony Caterina, a Northlands board member (shocker) who also wanted to keep the Muni open – wonderful, obviously a “visionary”.

    Kerry Diotte another Northlands board member. What a prince this guy is. The “victim” of an alleged “sting op” for drunk driving. Surely, an EPS member was pouring double scotches down his gullet.

    And Linda Sloan – proud Ontarian. And closet Leafs fan. (I made the last part up, not sure if she likes the Leafs or not) – but certainly explains her opposition.

    Point is there are way too many positions taken for self-serving reasons. Kudos to the mayor for speaking up and showing leadership. Unfortunately with some councillors among this bunch, it is akin to “hearding cats”.

    I doff my chapeau to Mayor Mandel.

  • O.C.

    They did plan for cost overruns.

    They said up front the budget would be $450 million and if the plans went over they’d scale back the design. Once construction starts the construction firm handles any overruns. Any talk of not accepting cutbacks to the design isnt a part of the original plan.

    “The maximum cost of new arena is $450 million and the building will be owned by the City of Edmonton.”

    http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/projects_redevelopment/agreement-framework.aspx

    “7. Who will pay for cost overruns? Who will pay the cost of financing construction while the arena is being built?
    The framework agreement caps design and construction of the arena at $450 million. The City has factored the cost of borrowing for construction into all its cost and revenue projections”

    http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/projects_redevelopment/arena-funding-faq.aspx#26755

  • O.C.

    I don’t know if this is a comparable, but I’ll offer it up anyway.

    Up here in Grande Prairie, we’re stuck with the Canada Games Arena. It was built in the early-1990s, in the lead-up to the 1995 Canada Winter Games. Don’t know how much it cost – I didn’t pay much attention that sort of stuff back then – but suffice it to say it was built with a significant about of municipal and provincial funding, as well as some money chipped in from the feds, presumably because it was for a “national event.” (not sure if the feds contributed at all).

    The story of the planning for the Canada Games Arena – and, more to the point, the cost-cutting and corner-cutting – has become part of local folklore. And, almost everyone leans towards “Gee, I wish they’d spent more on it,” than “Gee, I’m glad they cut corners like they did.”

    What kind of corners did the project planners cut to meet budget?

    Well, let’s start with the small stuff first. No press box.

    That’s right – the planners of an arena that was be christened on national TV (CBC) for two weeks didn’t figure a media centre (or even a press box) was a key item in the plans. There’s a story that still floats around town –it may be true; it also may be apocryphal – that when the CBC’s set-up people came to tour the facility right before the 1995 Games, they were generally impressed with the facility until they asked the tour guide to show them where the press box was. Legend has it that they were met with blank stares, but also some vague assurances that “something was in the works” (meanwhile, a mad scramble ensued and a quick plan sprang into action that saw a corner sponsors-only VIP room converted to a broadcast centre/press box).

    A formal press box – with desks, chairs and power outlets for laptops – wasn’t built at the arena until 2004, about two weeks before the Royal Bank Cup Junior A championship was hosted here. Between 1995 and 2004, local media were invited to sit in the stands to cover GP Storm games, as the corner room hosted an awkward combination of VIP-sponsors swilling booze and the public-address/scorekeeping staff for Storm games. And all this because the original planners either were unwilling (or unaware) of the value of spending about $50,000 to build a press box (I think the press box built in advance of the RBC cost about 80-grand, although it also included a VIP lounge and a box for the PA announcer and game-night crew).

    Then there’s the parking. The arena’s located right smack-dab in the middle of downtown. In the heyday of the Storm, when they were regularly drawing 2,000 actual fans to games (instead of the 2,000 mythical fans they claim to draw now), parking was not fun. That’s because there was a lot built with about 300 stalls for the arena. If you didn’t snag one of those for a game or concert, you either parked in a staff lot for a nearby business or you walked a long ways. A parkade would have been a good idea.

    But no mistake or shortfall has been lamented more than the CGA’s lack of “end-seating.” If you’re not familiar with that phrase, it’s simply the sections of bleachers in a typical hockey arena that are situated at either end of the rink (i.e. behind the net). The Canada Games Arena doesn’t have seating at either end of the rink. As it stands right now, it seats around 2,500 people for a hockey game (and around 4,000 for a concert). I’m not sure if end-seating was ever part of the original plans for the building but, nearly 20 years later, it’s generally agreed among many in the community that the lack of end seating was the biggest design oversight/corner-cut of the project and we’re paying dearly for it now.

    Ten years ago or so, a group from the Canadian Curling Association toured the CGA to scout out future host sites for the Scott Tournament of Hearts national women’s curling championship. Conventional wisdom was that GP had everything it needed to host the event – active volunteer base, rabid curling fans, lots of local business money. But then the CCA folks walked into the arena and discovered the lack of end seating. Such seating is a must for big curling events and not just because of the big crowds – it’s better for TV that way.

    The Scott ended up being handed to Prince George. The CGA has since hosted the Ford Women’s World Curling Championship (in 2006) but to date, nothing of its size or scale has been back, probably because of the facility’s shortcomings.

    And, in the years since then, Grande Prairie residents have watched all of the good concert shows go to nearby Dawson Creek, B.C., a town that’s less than half the size of GP but built a state-of-the-art arena (the Encana Centre) that has a full bowl of bleachers. Believe me, losing out to Dawson Creek and Fort St. John on anything is about as humbling as it gets in GP.

    It’s also generally believed that GP’s chances of getting a Western Hockey League team have been scuttled by the lack of an adequate bowl of seats. Cory Clouston, who coached the Ottawa Senators but got his start as the coach/GM of the GP Storm, said the CGA was a perfect WHL barn … except for the number of seats and wondered why it couldn’t have been built with 1,500 more.

    Suffice it to say, there are long-term consequences that happen when you cut corners to save a few million bucks. The Canada Games Arena obviously isn’t an NHL barn, so obviously there are economies of scale at play here, but like I said earlier, there no one in GP celebrating the few million bucks cut out of the CGA’s construction budget 20 years ago.

    Spend the money. Build it right the first time. You won’t regret it.

    • Wax Man Riley

      ↑This↑

      I don’t completely agree with the deal as stated, i.e. Katz getting the entire profits, but the last thing I want to see is a penny-pinched facility.

      The way it looks, we will all be paying taxes for this, and I would be much happier paying those knowing it was done properly, as opposed to still paying, and left wanting.

      • Zamboni Driver

        No city tax increase will happen, the mayor has publicly stated that. The only taxes that will rise will be down town but that will be due to the increase in property value that all the new develop will create ie. your property will be worth more.

        People please get the facts right.

        • Wax Man Riley

          Tax money will be used.

          The point I was making is that if tax dollars are used, I want to see a building built properly. With bells and whistles. As opposed to a budget facility that A View from GP is saying happened in GP.

    • I’m from GP and I can agree with everything here. Not to mention now all the surrounding parking areas for business’s which are closed at night are charging parking fees. Pay for parking in lots that are completely empty after 6pm because that makes people happy. I for one would be insanely happy if we could upgrade and get a WHL team. I would likely get season tickets to that level of play. There is a lot of money here in GP and I would love to see a new arena that could at least be compared to the Encana center.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If you ask a billionaire which of his billions were the most satisfying, he usually responds by saying “The next one”.

    Let us all bow before him and kiss the ring on the hand of Rexall Sports and Entertainment.

    The house that Daryl built, was there ever any doubt that this was going to get done?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I thought in one of your previous articles it was stated the MSI for this year was already earmarked for projects so any arena funding would have to come out of future allotments.

    I could have dreamt it though.

  • O.C.

    Councillors are councillors because they aren’t smart enough (generally) to run a business.

    Only a moron defers construction for 5 years in hopes of reducing costs.

    The “best” councillor becomes mayor. Decore was the exception – Mandel may be as well.

    With so many clowns making decisions, it’s no wonder this is dragging out.

    Let’s see – a $35M question on a potential of $1.5 B of tax revenue – plus residual increases in local property values – yielding other taxable benefits from economic stimulus. I wonder if it’s worth the added $35M… geee…

    (Un-freaking-believable)

  • Thank you Jason! I think all that most of us want is a fair and balanced presentation from the media unlike what we get from Messrs. Stouffer and Tencer who obviously have an agenda.

    Katz doesn’t need to say a word as long as his paid mouthpieces speak for him.

    You continue to be the class of sports media in Edmonton!

  • I hope Robin turns his cost saving tweets into a full fledged article.

    Gold. Pure Gold…Not the arena, too expensive, they can make it out of recycled pizza boxes found in the trash bin outside the media catwalk at RX1.

  • yawto

    I completely agree with your arena stance. The wavering between city council and the Katz group has been going on for what, 5 years now? At this pace, we’ll see ground broken on the new arena in Enoch in 2020. Both sides have made (and will make future) concessions, so they might as well expedite the process to allow for the arena to be built for a reasonable timeframe. I don’t want to see too many more sketches or renderings. Just the real thing coming to fruition.

    Oh, and off topic, but Brent Peterson’s brother was my BLAW prof.