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Daryl Katz: Edmonton's Downtown Arena Future Unclear

10/18/2012 03:10 EDT | Updated 12/18/2012 05:12 EST
CP

After all the negotiations, the back and forth, the high hopes and expectations, all Daril Katz could say after refusing to explain to Edmonton city hall why he wanted more money for the proposed arena was that the future of the project was 'uncertain.'

The owner of the Edmonton Oilers says he doesn't know what comes next after city councillors rejected his last-minute demands for millions more taxpayer dollars and walked away from a deal for a new downtown arena.

In a two-sentence press release, Daryl Katz says he is concerned about the implications of the deal effectively collapsing, but remains hopeful they can reach a solution.

We are concerned about the implications of the motion passed yesterday by City Council. We do not yet have a view on what comes next, but we remain hopeful that there is a solution that achieves the mutual goal of securing the Oilers’ long-term sustainability in Edmonton. - Daryl Katz Statement

Frustration in Edmonton is running high.

In his Edmonton Journal blog John MacKinnon highlighted that council too was more than a little confused, but were also feeling betrayed.

"Many councillors believed that was, in effect, a deal to build an arena and felt betrayed in recent weeks when Katz came forward with what they say are new, unanticipated demands for more money, including a $6 million annual operating subsidy to help maintain the proposed $450 million arena," he said in the Edmonton journal blog.

But the frustration and feelings of abuse were also running high among fans.

Although the statement says the Katz group remains 'hopeful, there is no indication what if anything, the Oilers owners are willing to do to make that happen, whereas the city repeatedly called him to the table before Wednesday's deadline.

Construction was set to begin next year on a new downtown rink. It would be built by the city while the Oilers would run it, pay a lease fee and keep almost all the profits.

That deal went into limbo last month when Katz said he'd had another look at the numbers and needed, among other concessions, $6 million more a year from taxpayers.

Mayor Stephen Mandel said the deal collapsed because Katz would not budge from his demands and would not provide the financial details to prove the extra $6 million was needed for him to turn a profit.

Mandel has said the only way the process can move forward is for Katz or his officials to meet with council in public to explain why they need the money.

“It seems (the Katz Group) want to keep all the costs, but the city absorbs them. That’s not fair,” Mayor Stephen Mandel told Canada.com.

“It’s wrong to hold us up for ransom.

“The deal we offer to Mr. Katz was incredibly profitable,” he told reporters. “I know the numbers and I can tell you he wasn’t going to lose money.”

The confusion and anger wasn't limited to the Edmonton city limits, as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman felt compelled to weigh in.

Taking a break from lockout negotiations, Bettman is reported by CTV as saying, “I think everybody needs to take a deep breath.

"The Oilers need a new arena, the city of Edmonton needs a new arena and I’m hopeful that despite the breakdown in negotiations, reason will prevail and we’ll get it to the right place."

-With File By CP.

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