City council voted 10-3 Wednesday to approve a revised deal that will pave the way for construction of a downtown arena.
City manager Simon Farbrother said he worked out details of a summary agreement with the Katz Group this week that’s 95 per cent similar to a framework accepted by the city in October 2011.
The major change is cost. The city faces a $15-million increase in what it will pay, mainly because the two sides will split the increase in the cost of the 18,559-seat facility, now at $480 million, up from $450 million.
With no subsidies or concessions as part of the proposed 35-year deal, Katz Group executive John Karvellas said the company doesn’t intend to come back for more money in the future.
“From the very beginning, this project has been about turning Edmonton’s need for a new arena into an opportunity to keep the Oilers in the heart of our community where they belong, and to help with revitalization of downtown,” he said.
“Having worked on this project for so long, I have to catch myself from getting carried away with the thought that finally we might be close to a conclusion.”
Several Oilers players, who lost 6-3 to San Jose Sharks Tuesday night, watched the discussion from the front row of the council chamber, where they were teased by Mayor Stephen Mandel.
“This is a punishment. Don’t ever allow six goals in the first period, otherwise you have to come and sit here again.”
Council has voted 10-3 in favour of moving ahead with the arena in previous motions, and based on two hours of questions there was no strong indication that trend will change in final votes set for this afternoon.
After council broke for lunch, Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff said he and his teammates want the new arena built.
“We feel it’s an important part of our future as players. We want to see a deal get done. We want to see a new arena. It’s exciting for the fans, it’s exciting for the players.”
Jordan Eberle expects to play in the new rink, scheduled to start construction as soon as August and open in 2016, two years later than originally planned.
“I think everyone knows the passion Edmonton Oilers fans have … As far as having a new arena, that’s just going to add to that.” (source Edmonton Journal)