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Edmonton's New Hockey Area: City Councillors Approve Design Despite Overbudget Price Tag

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EDMONTON ARENA HOCKEY
Fans wait out a blackout prior to the start of NHL hockey action between the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators, at Edmonton's Rexall Place on Tuesday, December 30, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/JOHN ULAN | CP

EDMONTON - Edmonton city council has voted to continue on with the design work on the proposed downtown arena.

It's going to move forward even though right now, the price tag for the project is $35 million higher than the approved budget of $450 million.

The vote was 10-3 with councillors Kerry Diotte, Tony Caterina and Linda Sloan voting against the design proposal.

Council has identified $17 million in items that can be cut from the design and still have a plus or minus variance of 20 per cent.

Councillor Karen Leibovici says she doesn't think there will be any problem in bringing the project in at $450 million.

Mayor Stephen Mandel is urging that the project go ahead without scaling things back too much.

"We've heard time and time from citizens, they don't want us to build anything for crap," Mandel said.

“They want us to build a good building, so I think at some point in time council is going to have to decide if it is going to be over, what is the overage going to look like."

Sloan says she doesn't like where this is going.

"I frankly don't care if (the arena exterior is) zinc or steel and I don't have any questions for the consultants because I think we're not at the stage where we can discuss the next stage."

"If we're going to build the bloody thing we need to get together and find consensus and find differences we have with ourselves and solve them," said Mandel.

“This project is about more than an arena. It is a catalyst for revitalizing downtown, and it is important to realize council’s vision for a strong and vibrant core to our city.”

The arena would be the new home for the NHL Edmonton Oilers, owned by drugstore magnate Darryl Katz.

The city is to pay $125 million towards the building, with another $125 million coming from a ticket tax and Katz putting up $100 million — leaving a shortfall of $100 million.

City officials are still trying to secure $100 million in funding from the province – an amount that was part of 17 conditions discussed when the arena agreement was made.

(CHED)

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