The last 24 hours have been interesting times for the city of Edmonton. Fans found out a good portion of the ownership group and their icon collection were apparently shopping for a new city.

As with all things, context and understanding are vitally important. I’m no expert when it comes to the arena deal, but it looks like there are several pressure points on both sides:

  • Costs are going up
  • The negotiation has been going on for a generation and the two sides appear to have a wider gap than they did at the beginning.
  • The "deal" that had been agreed to–at least that was the fan’s understanding–is now not good enough.
  • "Casino" money–part of the initial deal–may not be available.
  • The city has recently rejected the Katz group request for a subsidy.
  • Mr. Katz gave a long and meandering interview ("the White Album") in which he expressed frustration over the long and drawn out process.
  • Mayor Mandel suggested he was also frustrated and went public with the idea Katz talk to council with camera’s on.
  • Katz and his entourage made their most public appearance in a new town, in a clear and perhaps desperate attempt to put pressure on the city. 


A statement released by the Oilers yesterday confirmed the visit and generally acknowledged that this was a pressure drop without actually saying the words. The statement did discuss the fanbase:

  • “We are extremely grateful to Oilers’ fans for their patience and loyalty as we work through this process towards what we sincerely hope will be a long and successful future for the Oilers in Edmonton. We have no further comment on the status of our discussions with other markets at this time.”


The problem Mr. Katz is having–in my opinion–is that Edmontontians were very uncomfortable but willing to live with the deal made with the City. The mayor’s reaction to the new request for dollars was a perfect mirror for the citizens, and that gap–however wide–may be the hill the mayor and the city of Edmonton choose to die on.
Can the casino gap be made up with user fees? What about a "community fundraiser" committee ala the 1500 Saskatchewan Roughrider groups who help the team? What about–and don’t kill me–a third partner who invests and also shares in the (obvious) profits?


This isn’t an easy negotiation for either side, and I do believe the city has stretched itself to the breaking point. The feeling I get in talking to Edmontonians is that they know the current deal is a huge win for Katz but are willing to live with it. Is there an appetite to go to ‘infinity and beyond’ for the Oilers and homey Daryl Katz?
I suspect we’re about to find out.
  • Zamboni Driver

    a photoshop contest is the only thing left
    to help us poor Oilers fans through these
    dark days,
    without one soon, I’m afraid we’ll lose more than a few down the old saskatchewan river.
    So please, have a photoshop contest,
    maybe in the theme of TOY STORY,
    Katz kinda reminds me of Buzz and Mandel KInda reminds me of Woody.

  • book¡e

    Screw Daryl Katz and his boy toys Gretzky and Lowe.

    Katz had his opportunity to be a hero (Batman) if he just followed through with the deal he presented when he bought the team ($100 million + sports facilities at the U of A), but instead the businessman in him is now trying to squeeze every dollar out of the city and soon he will be as beloved as Pocklington became. Somehow he is managing to take Gretzky and Lowe with him (I guess they like his crumbs). Edmonton is a good hockey market and will be so for at least the next 25 years. He can get a better arena deal elsewhere, but will earn less hockey revenue.

    The real problem here is that the City negotiates a deal with Katz’ representatives and then Katz changes the deal. Its as though Katz and his own team are not in sync. This has happened three times now. The mayor is sick of it, so he is calling for public negotiations so that Katz needs to make it clear what he wants in front of witnesses so that if an agreement is struck that Katz does not change it again.

    I don’t see how people are blaming the city on this. They offered up a good deal and Katz agreed to it. Katz continues to change his ‘ask’ making it difficult for the City to respond.

  • Was wondering why Katz chose the lockout to go to the mattresses, but the timing makes sense when you realize he’s ransoming Boys on the Bus II. Got Hall and Eberle signed long term just before the lockout. And the lockout keeps RNH and Yakupov away from the soap opera.

    He gets his casino deal or something else or we watch the lottery picks win Stanley elsewhere and get a non-playoff team back in about 5 years when we dance for Bettman. This will be all over one way or the other before the lockout ends so Katz doesn’t even need to bother with Bettman playing mediator again.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Once the dust settles and Katz gets a few spare minutes he really needs to make the firing of his PR team priority #1.

    When is the last time you saw someone squander somuch good will in such a short period of time?

    In is mind numbing that he – and his handlers – can be so out of touch with the common man to not understand that when asking for public involvement, you need to…you know…involve the public.

    The last time we saw this tact employed it basicallu became the straw that broke the camel’s back and although the owner was able to pat himself on the back for ultimately getting the deal he wanted on a newly renovated building, you could also hear the slapping sound clear accross the Coliseum because it was, by that point, only filling half way.

    Any chance Katz learns a similar lesson on taking the fans for granted?

  • The last section of that Oilers release is a joke. The Katz Group could give two craps about the fans; hence their threat to leave. I hope they stay (good for the city), but I’ll never buy another piece of Oilers gear or shop at a Rexall pharmacy. Katz and his entourage of yes-men can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.

  • What makes this crazier is we have people on council who were bus drivers for petes sake. Sure he might be a great guy however the city of Edmonton and all government for that matter are the largest businesses in the country yet are run by people who couldn’t run a gas station properly.

    I get everyone votes our representatives in however most of the time those representatives aren’t the best for those positions.

    Imagine if Bill Gates, or Steve Job (RIP) ran the city instead of their respective businesses. The arena would have been built 5 years ago!

    • Woogie

      the whole bus driver thing is really dumb to say. just because he was a bus driver doesn’t make him stupid or any less able to deal with the people he represents. cause that’s kinda his job. representing the citizens of his area.

      there a lot of examples of really smart successful people who do not have an education or a very high level of it. they can ahcieve and understand things as well.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        NOOOOOO !!!I crush THEE and Thy perspective!!!!

        The Bus Driver comment is right on target-not specificly the individual person themselves{there must be millionaire bus drivers out there} but the general reality is that normal Joes and Janes are NOT equipped to make major negotiations like this,people should be contracted out to do this for the city,as paid representative contractors– negotiators anything over 100 million goes out of City Halls negotiating hands or butterfingers.

        Decision making power should be theirs but negotiating is taken out of their hands and given to pros.

        Yes,anyone can be smart,but smart and prepared are two different things,you really want a brain surgeon repairing your cars broken brakes before you take a trip through the Mountains???Hes the smartest guy out there right??

        Sorry,but this libertarian attitude is why we are in this mess.Smart and prepared are different things and we need to recognise this.Bus Drivers and Housewives and Plumbers are not prepared to make these types of high level high dollar business “negotiations”,they are prepared to make the DECISIONS but their abilitys end exactly there,and then they need to hire out for help.If the decision is that yes the city decides we need an Arena,COUNCIL CLOSES SESSION ON THAT NOTE because their job is done—-the next day they find a proper representative to carry forward negotiations beyond the green light.These are yes/no men and women,not negotiators.They were hired to simply be representative of edmontons populations wants and needs as manifested through their decisin making in City hall,not absolute entitys in themselves,we all want the arena,our city hall must abide by that,the decision must be made YES or NO,and then City Hall isnt to be heard from again.If a deal with katz cant be worked out so what???our representatives will still build the arena because we want one,,,,,and then we have the Hammer and we can shop for another team—–ooops I forgot if we build an Arena then the Oilers stay right??This is a no brainer.

        Even if we foot the entire bill for the exact same arena design tomorrow on our own katz or another Billionaire will obviously step in and make even more hundreds of millions off of all the residual development.An arena needs a pro team as an ANCHOR,and if you build it they will come,just ask Seattle.If we build it someone will come here and anchor the Arena—just make it a beautiful cutting edge building.By the time its done if we break ground on our own this year we will have another team,no superstars,but someone will land here within four or five years.

        • Woogie

          ok yeah so i didnt read all of that because i couldn’t make hide nor hair of what was is going on.

          the part about the difference between being prepared and smart confuses me. you know they sit on council and are privy to all information the KG comes forward with. they are able to research, dissect and study this information. i guess what i’m saying is that this is called being PREPARED. so in essence they are both prepared and smart.

          works for me.

      • Zamboni Driver

        “there a lot of examples of really smart successful people who do not have an education or a very high level of it. they can ahcieve and understand things as well.”

        See: Lowe, Kevin, Grade 11 dropout

      • Woogie

        I’m not saying that he is not smart or successful my point is the system as a whole.

        Have you seen a debate in the legislature? It’s like a bunch of 5 year olds arguing. What is the point of this? There is a reason why companies aren’t run this way.

        Perhaps using the bus driver was poor taste however my point is the best people to run these billion dollar companies (government) aren’t the best ones in the first place for many reason. It’s just unfortunate really.

        • Woogie

          thanks for the clarification.

          i went to question period in Ottawa once it was a disgrace to every canadian who votes for these dolts.

          i want the arena done as much as anybody but at some point the guy drawing all the lines in sand (Katz) must realize he’s really sh!tty with an etch-a-sketch. time to put it away and draw up a real proposal. one that also works for the citizens of Edmonton.

  • vetinari

    Enough is enough. I’m so tired of all. Side A says the arena is being paid for 100% by the city. Side B says Katz is paying 50% for 0% ownership. None of us really knows what the story is. But everyone has an opinion. And the people that do know only publish the spin.

    Build it. Don’t build it. Whatever. Call me when it’s over.

  • Man this arena is really starting to frustrate me!

    23 ave interchange Cost $286 million
    Art gallery cost $88 million

    Why did nobody care of these projects who all ran WAY OVER BUDGET. but when it comes to an arena everyone has an opinion and now suddenly cares.

    New rink downtown is a WIN – WIN for KATZ and the CITY!

    GET’ER done already!

    • Zamboni Driver

      For the ten millionth time…

      The City…City Councillors (irrespective of their previous jobs – btw…the ‘bus driver’ isn’t on Council anymore, if that’s really an issue), voted TEN TO THREE IN FAVOUR of a deal that gave your superhero a sweetheart deal.

      Now, like the 9 year old on the playground that gets what he wants, then figures he could have and should have asked for more….he’s asking for more.


      And to top it off, he’s threatening to take his toys and go play in another playground.

      And this is the CITY’S fault?

      By the by…the City of Edmonton..

      IS US.

  • OilDoug


    I don’t live in Edmonton but I’m as big a fan of the Edmonton Oilers as there is in Edmonton or any city on this planet. I don’t percieve to have the right to tell the citizens of the city how to proceed whenn it comes to this arena deal/noegotiation. I do, however, live in a city, St. John’s, that was basically told to build a new arean or we would lose our hockey team. At the time it was the farm club for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Our city went back and forth and had continuos debate on how to proceed. We eventually decided to build a new arena and it too went well over budget or costs increased. That’s simply a fact of life and business. The sad part of our story is we still lost our hockey team as the powers that be with the Maple Leafs decided they needed their team closer to Toronto. Trust me, thats not a scenario you and the citizens of Edmonton want to go through.

    The same people who voiced opostion to the arena being built in St. John’s were even more vocal when the team left town and the stadium esentially became a white elephant. We’ve since been fortunate enough to acquire the Jets farm team and we’ve packed the building to the rafters and been the talk of the AHL.

    The point I’m trying to make is that it may “hurt” in the short term to get the building built. But it will really hurt if the team leaves when something could have been done to keep it there.

    Mr. Katz is a business man and Mayor Mandel is the mayor. Both want whats best for the city. Katz is an Edmontonian and Oiler fan. He’s been a fan of the team since the glory days of the 80’s. Do you really think he wants to be known as the man who ended the Edmonton Oilers? I don’t. Mayor Mandel, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be known as the mayor who ended the Edmonton Oilers. So there has to be a way to make a deal.

    Rexall Place is past its best before date. The building is amongst the oldest in the NHL. It’s too small to allow the Oilers to be viable and compete in the NHL. Renovations will not make the building into what it needs to be. A new building is needed.

    The thing that frustrates me as an Oiler fan outside of Edmonton is I want the team there long term and I’m looking for an excuse to visit your city again. One excuse would be during Rexall’s farewell season and the other would be to see the new building.

    I know opinion is divided as to what to do. I just think that should the arena deal fail and the Oilers leave town the people who are objecting to the arena being built will be the same people who complain when trade shows, conventions, concerts, etc. by pass Edmonton and go to Calgary, Vancouver and other cities. It happened here in St. John’s so I have no doubt it will happen there.

    Quite simply a way has to be found to make this work. It will be a benefit for Edmonton in the long run! The 2017 Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers are counting on it!

  • Reality Check to the head

    This trip to Seattle is a not to gentle reminder of the Oiler Reality. You need to appreciate what you have or else you will lose it.

    The problem (imo) is the Katz has to deal with a group that has to deal with a very small minded but vocal group (ie: Female newspaper journalist -puked in my mouth a calling her a journalist-) that has for the most part been against the arena deal.

    The other part of the problem is that City Council cannot make a timely decision. This is a problem with most beauracratic states. I for one cannot understand how the richest province per capita in North America cannot find away to make this arena work. I understand the complexities of the federal, provincial, and local funding relationship and that we have other provincial issues: such as crappy schools, long medical waits etc, etc. But you would really hope they would want to distract the local populace with a shiny new arena. Maybe I am just hoping.

  • It will be forty years ago this October I attended the inaugural home game of the Alberta Oilers in the old Edmonton Gardens arena. Been a fan ever since, through the winning and losing seasons, but it appears this is about to end. Not because of the NHL lockout of the players. How did it happen when it shouldn’t have?

    I’m sure there will be many “he said, she said” stories attempting to explain the the inexplicable. Blame will be placed. Many Edmontonians, even those not necessarily good fans, will experience the heartbreak Winnipeggers did when the Jets moved lock-stock-and-barrel to Phoenix. It left a hole in their hearts but, after many years, they finally found a replacement.

    My sense is that Daryl Katz never fully understood what it was he bought when he acquired the Edmonton Oilers. An asset, a toy? Who really knows?

    • vetinari

      Public business? I’m not sure which part of the Oilers is a public business. When the City of Edmonton (COE) decided to build a new museum, there was no public outcry. In fact, it was supported wholeheartedly. What if a private businessman stepped up and offered millions of dollars to support the museum build and invest in the surrounding infrastructure. Also, he offered to be the primary tenant i.e. would ensure the building had a marquee show for 35 years. The caveat? He gets to participate in the profits. In fact, he gets most of the profits as he is responsible for the day to day operations for most of the year. That seems like a pretty good deal for the COE. They were going to build the museum anyway but have now been given a better deal whereby they have secured a 35 year tenant who pays top dollar. The rest of this writes itself…

      • I think you know what I meant by “public business”… as opposed to his Drugstores, real estate etc. He is showing his true colours. I say show him and his buddy Kevin the door and then sit back and go through the 4 or 5 requests we’d have to move a failing US based team here. Believe me, we wouldn’t be without a hockey team for 5 minutes!! I used to be in Katz’ corner but he can pound sand after this immature display.

        • G Money

          A common delusion, and perhaps one of the reasons fans aren’t realizing that what Katz is offering is actually a pretty reasonable deal.

          No team will *ever* move here if Rexall is the place they move to.

          So before any of those “four or five” teams are making any requests, the city will have to fund 100% of the building of a new arena. AND will have to offer concessions in line with what Katz wants.

          That’s what Winnipeg had to do BTW (notwithstanding the richest man in Canada was involved in building the arena).

          It is far far easier to keep a team than it is to get a new one shortly after you lost the previous one.

          • book¡e

            “No team will ever move here if Rexall is the place they move to.”

            True – but there are teams that would move here to a new arena for less than what Katz is seeking.

            Winnipeg has 2/3 the population of Edmonton and is not in one of the strongest economies in the world right now (with modest projections predicting 25+ years of sustained growth ahead).

          • Zamboni Driver

            “No team will *ever* move here if Rexall is the place they move to.”


            No NHL team will also *ever* move to the Key Arena or the soon-to-be-built-100%-by-private-money arena in Seattle where the NBA owner (when the NBA goes back) will get all the revenue…either.

  • vetinari

    To go in a completely different direction, if Katz & co. are only willing to throw in about $100M or so into the kitty, why not just have the city and province pick up the whole tab on the condition that Katz keeps the Oil in Edmonton for 35 years with the profit going to the city and the province?

    My thoughts are that Katz maybe made a bad move by going openly to Seattle at this time… it only reinforces that the Oil are his personal toy to do with as he pleases and that if he doesn’t get his way, he’s out the door at the first opportunity. Lockout or no lockout, I guarantee you that if this mess is still not sorted out when hockey resumes, I’ll watch the Oil on tv but not be going to the games…

    • ubermiguel

      Because that’s not what Katz wants. He wants control of the arena (which means he gets the profit from the events).

      If it was a simple matter of whoever builds the arena keeps it, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

      Katz wants his brand new arena, but doesn’t want to invest his own money in it. Everything coming from Katz is in the form of deferred (subsidized) payments, ticket taxes, etc…

      The original deal was pretty bad for Edmonton tax payers. The one Katz is pushing for is much much worse.

      Katz knows the real money isn’t in the arena. It’s in the developmental opportunities near the arena, that’s where he wants to put his money.

      The team is not leaving. He wants to build up that area because it represents a huge windfall for him. This is all posturing.