That above monstrosity is an artist’s depiction of a proposed new downtown stadium, hotel and casino complex in downtown Edmonton. It currently has a projected cost of $400-$500 million dollars. Oilers owner Darryl Katz has put up nearly $200 million of his own money towards the development, which is currently still in the planning stages.
If approved, the stadium will help to revitalize a sagging downtown Edmonton core. There’s two key problems with the whole scenario. The first problem is Northlands. Northlands has hired two consulting firms to look into developing a complex of their own, on land that they have the rights too. Besides owning the current Rexall Place arena they own Northlands Agricom, which is a venue for concerts and conventions. They also own the horse track which is home to betting and VLT’s.
The second problem is money. Up here in Canada, stadiums and sports venues don’t generally receive the level of public financing that American stadiums do. The Ottawa Senators, for example, were forced to pay for the cost of development and construction of a highway offramp so that their arena was accessible by the public.
With that in mind, the Oilers brain trust has come up with a creative albeit controversial and possibly illegal method to fund the stadium. Darryl Katz was furious that the Oilers went the month of January without winning a game. He was furious that they were on a streak of 2 wins in the previous 22 games. He was furious that despite spending to near the salary cap, his team was in dead last place. That was until Patrick LaForge, Oilers CEO, got in Katz’s ear.
Despite the possible backlash, the Oilers are moving ahead with their plans to be the Harlem Globetrotters of Hockey. Seeing as how they’re so lousy, it’s surprising it took so long to come to the conclusion. Seeing as they have nothing to play for, they’re going to play willing opposing teams on their off days. It’s expected that their cut could be worth as much as $500K in profit per game playing college, junior, all star and foreign teams including the Bolivian Osos Del Nieve(Polar Bears).
Katz is expected to meet with Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the NHL, to propose allowing NHL teams to bid on playing the Oilers starting next year. Insider sources say that Katz is willing to do a 60/40 split on profits with the league to allow the proposal to proceed. Early indications are that many teams would be very willing to take part in the project. Speaking off the record, 6 teams in the Eastern Conference said they would be willing to pay up to $1 million per game for the ability to play the Oilers the last 10 games of the year as a playoff primer. The Oilers are even willing to forgo home games and play 82 road games for an increased price. It’s expected that the team could net as much as $75 million next year. If the plan is successful, the Phoenix Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to petition the league to join the project.