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Edmonton Downtown Arena Deal: Many Surveyed Not In Favour

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DARYL KATZ
Edmonton downtown arena deal doesn't impress all. | CP

A majority of Edmontonians polled were not in favour of the city's recently passed arena deal, which a Richard Ivy School of Business professor called one the worst deals in Canadian history.

The online survey conducted by Edmonton City Councillor Kerry Diotte found that 54 per cent of respondents were not happy with the deal, with many saying they still supported the vision of a downtown arena.

The Edmonton Oilers and city councillors finalized a deal last week, ending five years of haggling and bargaining.

"As far as deals go, this may be among the worst in Canadian history," said Mike Moffatt, an assistant professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business, The Globe and Mail reported.

Study after study shows that sports teams and arenas generate little economic benefit, Moffatt said, and expecting over $100 million from a province that has an astronomically large deficit makes it a horrible deal for taxpayers.

The Oilers will pay $143 million toward the arena with Edmonton taxpayers shouldering another $219 million for the 18,559-seat facility. Another $125 million will come from a ticket tax that wouldn't exceed seven per cent of the total cost of a ticket.

Another $107 million is still being sought from the province, along with $7 million from Ottawa.

"I believe we are giving too much away to Katz," said one of the comments on the survey. "If this were a partnership there should be a formula to share BOTH the risks and rewards between the City AND Katz.”

”The construction of a new arena downtown will not only be great for the Edmonton Oilers, it will also help to create more energy and excitement in the downtown core. Edmonton needs the NHL and the NHL needs Edmonton," said another on the survey response.

The reaction to the arena's deal being finalized has been one of mixed emotions. While many are thrilled that a deal was finally reached, it was hard to find anyone who was happy with the deal itself.

With files from CP

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