A report on the website for AM 630CHED, the Edmonton-area broadcast partner of the Edmonton Oilers, suggests that a deal for the team to finally have a new arena built in downtown Edmonton might be on the verge of being agreed to as early as this coming Wednesday. The deal, which is currently being negotiated between the City of Edmonton and the Katz Group, who owns the Oilers, would create a downtown arena complex which would include a modern NHL-ready stadium for the Oilers, in addition to creating opportunities for a variety of businesses to come in and help revitalize the downtown area.
City councilor Bryan Anderson spoke about talks which took place over the weekend:
“If you’re in favour of having an arena you’ll probably feel good and if you’re against having an arena you’ll probably feel not so good,” Anderson remarked.
Adding fuel to this fire, Anderson confirmed that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was indeed in Edmonton this past weekend and sat in on some of the talks:
“He was involved in talks between the City Manager, the Mayor and the Katz group and the talks were positive,” explains Anderson. “I think we’ll see the results on Wednesday at the city council meeting.”
If this news is up to snuff, then this should allow Oilers fans to breathe a sigh of relief. Few people actually thought that owner Daryl Katz‘s trip to Seattle back in September was going to lead to the Oilers relocating there should Seattle get its new NBA/NHL arena project off the ground (and it looks like they are going to), but it is nice to hear potentially positive news like this nonetheless.
So is it time for Edmonton Oilers fans to rejoice?
Perhaps, but not just yet. If this deal falls through somehow, then you still have to contend with the fact that the Oilers have less than two years remaining on their lease at the dilapidated Rexall Place. Would the Oilers seriously consider relocating if this deal deteriorates? And even if they did, would the NHL actually allow one of its few bonafide profitable markets to move, even if it is in Canada? At that point, you’d think we could have the start of another Phoenix Coyotes debacle on our hands.
Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that.