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Discussion of new Edmonton Oilers arena pushed back until fall

Jun 8, 2010, 10:55 AM EDT

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The rather muddled Edmonton Oilers arena situation won’t be resolved anytime soon, as the proposed June 28 meeting has been pushed back to “sometime this fall” according to TSN.

A new date for the hearing has not yet been set, but it’s expected to take place sometime in the fall. Edmonton’s municipal election is Oct. 18.

Last month, a public meeting was held to discuss plans for the Katz Group’s proposed complex of office towers, hotels, restaurants, a casino and student residences. At its heart is a $400-million, 18,000-seat rink that would be linked to surrounding amenities by a sprawling, above-ground bubble-topped “winter garden.”

The Katz Group has already bought the land and is helping design the project. But it has also stirred controversy with its pitch to have the city pay for, own and operate the rink, while the Oilers would pay minimal rent and keep profits from all games and other non-related events.

Could there be concerns that – breaking a recent trend – a Canadian team might need to move? The article states that Oilers owner Daryl Katz isn’t threatening to move the team, but thinks that the arena would be crucial to the team’s “viability.”

Despite some very promising ratings, the league is still a gate-driven sport in some ways, so I can’t help but see Katz’s side of the story. That being said, sports teams make buckets and buckets of money, so it’s hard for me to empathize much when rich owners try to bleed the public dry to build an arena.

Ultimately, it will come down to a) who blinks first or b) finding a compromise. If both sides want to get this done, it will get done. That won’t happen for a least a little bit, though.

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