The arena debate and the NHL lockout are two subjects making Edmontonians very nervous these days. The NHL lockout is an open ended problem that seemingly could go on for a good, long time. The arena debate, on the other hand, is something that has already gone on too long and should be coming to a close, one way or another. I believe the Oilers will be staying in Edmonton but how the Edmonton Oilers start building a new arena is a dicey one. The arena project is $100 million short and how the costs and revenue will be spilt will need the precision of a surgeon.
Through all of this, Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz has been very “cloak and dagger”. Showing up here and there in front of cameras, but rarely speaking about the matters at hand. Katz is giving off the impresson of being Mr. Burns type while the City Of Edmonton is Homer Simpson. Too much behind the scenes scheming and not enough selling the vision to the public. When it comes about the city and the public handing over funds to construct an arena, it would be nice if we could all feel like we can be a part of this process, instead of saying “oh, well, here is a blank cheque”. There are two things Daryl Katz can do to help his image with Edmontonians and Albertans alike.
One, talk into any microphone being stuck in his face. People want to know what he is thinking and what his future plans are. Right now, he appears as someone who is looking for handouts. Sell the people on the vision. We all know he is in it for the money, but what he needs to sell is that this is for the betterment of the Edmonton Oilers and the people of Edmonton over and over again. The more Edmontonians see his face and here him speaking through a variety of outlets, the more people might warm to his personality and appeal. Right now, city council is winning the PR battle because of Daryl Katz having a lack of affinity for public speaking. It is rare to hear of any city council winning any PR battle.
The other thing that is hurting him is his posse giving off the impression that everyone is kissing his backside. Nobody likes thats perception. Daryl Katz has done some great things for the City of Edmonton which includes a variety of charity work. But when I hear the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Kevin Lowe talk glowingly about Daryl Katz, it seems a bit much. The man needs to sell himself, not have others do his bidding for him. It comes off as a sham. This is a big moment for Edmontonians and we all know it, but we want to know the face that we are investing in.
We all know Daryl Katz is a master negotiator. He wouldn’t be where he is in life if he wasn’t. What’s needed now is a bit of humility and an ability to relate to the people of Edmonton. It’s time to start selling the people on the idea and the vision.