Latest arena deal not a win-win
Here are some remarks I made during today’s (Jan. 22) city council meeting where I opposed the latest arena deal.
The deal passed 10-3.
“I’m a big Oilers fan and I’ll admit it’s kind of cool some of their players came here today.
Although, it would have been more useful if Daryl Katz had been here instead of the players.
I believe a new arena is an excellent idea.
But any deal has to be a win-win.
That’s why in Spring 2011 I voted in favour of Administration negotiating a master agreement with the Katz Group.
That’s when there were conditions in the deal that capped the maximum price at $450 million.
That’s when it said the deal couldn’t even proceed before there was guaranteed money contributed from the province.
That’s when the City was pursuing revenue sharing and naming rights for the building we would own.
But a lot has changed since spring of 2011.
We’re not even dealing with the Katz Group anymore per se. We’re negotiating with an entity called the Edmonton Arena Corporation.
Just a few hours ago we councillors were provided printed copies of this rather complex deal.
Now we’re being asked in very short order to approved a $601-million arena project.
What’s the rush? If this is such a good deal we owe it to taxpayers to have at least a couple of more days to study it.
This new deal we’re being presented is not a win-win.
At $601 million for the whole project (including LRT connections etc.) it’s already well over budget and we don’t even have a shovel in the ground.
Anybody remember the 1976 Montreal Olympics? Montreal’s Mayor Drapeau said those Olympics “can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby.”
We all know how that turned out.
Mainly because of ballooning costs of Olympic Stadium they wound up with a debt of $1.5 billion. It wasn’t paid off until 2006.
The other alarming aspect to this latest arena agreement is we’re using millions of dollars of public money to benefit a private enterprise. And we have seen no true financials on the operations of the Oilers or The Katz Group to see if they need any of it.
We’re completely in the dark.
As well, this deal was not supposed to proceed without having provincial money. We don’t have it after two years or so of asking.
So by proceeding now on construction we’re buying a fancy, shiny new car but we don’t know if we can finish paying for it.
Finally, we’ll own a building but not even get naming rights to it. That’s something that could be worth $100 million or so over the life of the deal.
A downtown arena is a great idea. I support that. But it has to be a win-win deal.
This deal is not a win-win for Edmontonians and that’s why I cannot support it.”