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Edmonton Oilers new arena decision could come soon

May 20, 2010, 8:35 PM EDT

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On the ice, the Edmonton Oilers are looking to bounce back from what was by far the worst season of any NHL team in 09-10 by building up their team with prospects. Much like the once-floundering Pittsburgh Penguins’ struggles with the relatively ancient Mellon Arena, perhaps that influx of potential stars will help Oilers owner Daryl Katz get the club’s long-awaited arena deal done.

TSN reports that the $400 million deal (with reportedly $1.5 billion in overall development money involved in the proposals) may see its make-or-break day as soon as June 28. First, let’s consider the stakes at hand.

Get it right and the proposed $400-million rink becomes the transformative force for a cultural and economic renaissance.

Get it wrong and generations of taxpayers pay the price and the core, just springing back to life with condos and storefront shops, is killed in the cradle.

As the story says, time is a big factor but money is the most important. The Edmonton area is fledgling (just ask stars who pooh-poohed a trade to the region like Dany Heatley) and could certainly use a shot in the arm. That being said, many critics point out that other Canadian teams who built new arenas did so with little or no public funding.

The Oilers want spades in the ground in 18 months so that the new rink is ready to go when the lease expires in 2014 on their current home, the aging Rexall Place.

There’s obviously a lot of money – and, in a worst case scenario, the fate of a franchise that won a slew of Cups in the Wayne Gretzky Era – on the line but a lot can change in a month or more. We’ll keep you updated as this crucial situation makes its way toward a conclusion.

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