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Oilers owner: “all bets are off” without new arena

Sep 18, 2012, 2:45 PM EDT

Edmonton Arena design

Darryl Katz didn’t outright threaten to move the Oilers if he can’t close a deal with the City of Edmonton to build a new downtown arena, but the team’s owner sure left the possibility open for discussion.

“If this doesn’t work, what can I say?” Katz told the Edmonton Journal in an extensive interview the newspaper granted at his request.

“Obviously, all bets are off, and we’ll have to figure out what comes next. And I don’t know what that will be, OK? That’s truthful.”

The latest chapter in the Oilers’ arena saga started last week when Katz went to city council requesting more money for the project – a request the city turned down.

One of Katz’s new wishes – among others – is a $6-million annual operating subsidy to run the arena.

He justifies the subsidy as follows:

“Number one, Edmonton’s needs a new arena. Edmonton needs a new arena with the Oilers and our investment, or without.

“With the Oilers and our investment, the cost of the arena is shared. Without the Oilers, Edmonton still needs a new arena, but the public would have to pay the full freight, just as it would have to pay $250-odd million to refurbish Rexall Place.

“Plus it would have to pay all the capital and operating costs, just like Quebec City will, just like Kansas City, just like Phoenix, just like Seattle, just like Hamilton, and just like other cities that would all like an NHL or NBA team to subsidize their arenas.

“So you see, in our view, it is the team that acts as a subsidy for a city’s arena, which is effectively infrastructure, not the other way around. So the Oilers are the key to the arena, and the arena, in turn, is the key to a whole host of benefits to the city and the public.”

We won’t bore you with all the details – bottom line is that Edmonton hockey fans are once again being forced to consider life without the Oilers unless taxpayers play ball with a billionaire owner.

Not a good look for a league that’s already taking a PR beating.

  1. t16rich - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Pfff. Oilers aren’t going anywhere.

  2. bcsteele - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    I’m a Blues fan and even I can say moving the Oilers would be as equally stupid as when the Jets moved to the desert. Sorry if I offend anyone’s team but seriously, Edmonton’s team is financially stable and to move them would be retarded.

  3. katra2logic - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    First they get more money (higher ticket prices) from the fans…
    Then they want the players to give them back money on contracts already signed in good faith…
    Now they think the taxpayers should throw them some more money (on an annual basis, no less)

    The Owners GREED has gotten OUT OF HAND!

    • davebabychreturns - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:35 PM

      Just for the sake of argument here.

      Ticket prices have everything to do with what the market is willing to bear, if you’re going to get angry at the ownership of the Leafs or Oilers or Canucks for raising ticket prices then I guess you might as well be showering praise on the owners of franchises like the Panthers who are practically giving tickets away.. the reality is simply that some teams are in markets where they can charge sky high ticket prices, others are not.

      As for taking money away from the players, under the now expired CBA it was pretty clear that the dollar amounts specified in contracts didn’t represent any kind of guarantee those players would see every penny of that total – that’s what escrow means, the players were responsible for making up the difference between the sum of their compensation and the actual percentage of HRR they were allotted. Attempting to “take back” money owed to the players may seem unfair but really it is just a different implementation of the same thing that’s been going on in principle for seven years. The players have done pretty freaking well in that system by the way.

      And asking for money from taxpayers.. well I tend to agree there. The idea that Katz needs all of these handouts is pretty ludicrous but I suppose his aim is to frame the issue as one where Edmonton needs the Oilers more than the Oilers need Edmonton. Frankly I don’t think there’s any chance that team moves, and this is all just a bunch of rhetoric.. why else would Katz go to the local rag and ask them to interview him on the subject?

      • tealwithit - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:21 PM

        Why would you try to bring logical thought into this?

        Well said, by the way.

  4. flyeredup202 - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Lock up an new arena and keep that HISTORIC team where it belongs….

  5. bigoldorcafromvan - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    How do you spell “Seattle Oilers.”?

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      I believe it’s spelt N-O-C-H-A-N-C-E!

      The Oilers were 5th in the league in profits in 2010-11, making more than the Wings, Flyers, Penguins, Bruins, Black Hawks etc, there’s no way any owner would turn their back on profits to move it to a city that’s unknown as far as actual NHL hockey fans go. There’s no way the league would ever let this team move to that location when they’ve got several other more “suitable” candidates for that location.

  6. jokoneski - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    As long as ‘oil change’ is still on, I don’t care where they are….kidding. While Seattle would be a good hockey city, the Oilers belong in Edmonton. GoWings!

  7. icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    The arena looks like a spaceship. Cool.

  8. jersey77girl - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Why exactly do they need a NEW arena to lock players out of ? What’s wrong with locking them out of the current one?

    How much money will a locked out season cost the local governemnt in lost taxes, unemployment [for laid off staff during a lockout] and other benefits lost due to the lockout?

    For every arguement the Katz is making to justify the money, the governemnt should be turning around and using against Katz to justify ending the lockout. Seems like really bad timing if you ask me. Screw over the local community by preventing business supported by the team from doing business then explain how a new arena will benefit them?

  9. greatminnesotasportsmind - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    For the those of you who think the Oilers won’t move because they don’t get a new arena, I present to you, the Minnesota North Stars.

  10. jakpsu1 - Sep 19, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    Is it just me, or are sports owners becoming more and more like the federal government?

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