Yesterday, the City of Edmonton and the Katz Group, which owns the Edmonton Oilers, confirmed what had been rumored for several days by agreeing to a deal that will allow for a new arena and downtown complex to be built in Edmonton. The deal will keep the Oilers in town for 35 years.
This news could not come at a better time for Edmontonians and for fans of the Oilers. While many were quite certain that Daryl Katz’s dalliance with the city of Seattle back in September was just a ploy to try to get either the citizens of Edmonton or the government to pony up more funds to build the new arena and downtown complex, it was disturbing to note how late in the process Katz tried to use this tactic.
The results could have been disastrous, especially with the Oilers’ lease at Rexall Place set to end after the 2013-2014 season, and with cities like Seattle, Quebec City and Markham attempting to lure NHL teams to their markets. But cooler heads have prevailed, and who knows how much help Gary Bettman‘s presence in Edmonton last weekend lent to the proceedings?
The cost of the arena is currently set at $480 million, but when factoring in the winter garden, community ice rink and other parts of the project that will be included, the final cost is expected to clear $600 million. There is no definitive timetable set for starting this project, but word is that everyone involved hopes to break ground within the next few months with an eye towards having the new arena completed in time for the 2016-2017 season.