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Alberta opposition proposes lottery to fund new arenas for Oilers, Flames

Jan 3, 2013, 3:02 PM EDT

Edmonton Arena design

Alberta’s opposition party has devised a plan to help pay for new NHL arenas in Edmonton and, eventually, Calgary.

Under the plan, the lottery game KENO would be dramatically expanded to increase revenue from $3.1 million annually to almost $200 million.

“We believe this could be a solution that makes sense for everybody involved,” Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith said in a statement.

“The City of Edmonton would get a magnificent downtown facility, the Edmonton Oilers would get a new home and Alberta taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook for any of it.

“Wildrose believes the downtown arena is an important part of Edmonton’s future and we hope the province and the city will consider our proposal.”

The idea is hardly original (even though the Wildrose party is calling it “new and innovative.”) Lotteries are often used by governments to fund stadium construction.

Arguments against using lottery funds include:

—- “If it’s so easy to raise the money, why not use the proceeds for something besides a subsidy for billionaire sports owners?”

—- Lotteries are largely played by the poor.

It remains to be seen if the provincial government has any interest in such a plan. (We’d wager it doesn’t, if only because the opposition party came up with the plan.)

The Oilers and the City of Edmonton have been calling on the province to fund $100 million of the cost of a new downtown arena.

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