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Oilers owner takes next step for new arena

Apr 19, 2010, 12:33 PM EDT

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Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz has started the formal process for building a new arena for the Edmonton Oilers, formally submitting a rezoning application to the city today for a new downtown arena and entertainment center.

The project includes two hotels, a new casino, and commercial development as well as the new arena, all enveloped ina $1-billion investment in which the city itself would foot the majority of the bill.

Unlike Jerry Jones with his monstrosity of a stadium in Arlington, Texas, who paid for nearly 80% of the $1-billion complex, owner Katz would pay just $100 million of his own money for the project. The rest of the funding would come through taxes, and that is what has Peter Adler a bit angry.

Alder claims that such a complex is too big a risk for the Edmonton public to take, especially paying for 90% of the project through taxes, for an investment that likely will fail.

It is a most unfortunate fact of life that reality often won’t match our wishes, no matter how hard we try. And it is a fact of life that most North American cities have been experiencing the downturn of
their downtown areas. It’s a long-term trend. It’s called suburbanization, and entire schools of scientists steeped in demographics, sociology and, even, economics, have been trying hard to figure out whether this was good for the cities thus affected.

Katz hopes to build a state of the art complex in downtown Edmonton, revitalizing the area while giving his Oilers a new home. While Adler is crying foul over the circumstances of the proposal, the rest of Edmonton seems to be behind the idea completely. Which makes an impending vote — depending on the approval of the rezoning application — incredibly important.

If the Edmonton citizens wish to vote for a project that could destroy the city, that’s their prerogative.

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