The Edmonton Oilers bid farewell to Rexall Place

Tonight the Edmonton Oilers played their final game in the building they have called home since 1974. Though its future remains uncertain, Rexall Place has been an important part of Edmonton for more than 40 years.

Farewell Rexall Place

The subject of its own, drawn out arena debate, Rexall Place was eventually built in the early 1970s. It opened on November 10, 1974 and the Oilers played their first game in the building that night. They won that game over the Cleveland Crusaders by a score of 4-1. For more on the history of Rexall Place, check out this great deep dive from David Staples.

Farewell Rexall Place

In addition to tonight’s celebrations at the building itself, the Oilers and the City held a rally in Churchill Square today. All former Oilers were invited to attend, and more than 100 did. The event was hosted by City Manager Linda Cochrane and was a nice opportunity for fans to join with the Oilers to say thanks to Rexall Place.

Farewell Rexall Place

Mayor Don Iveson, Jason Strudwick, Ryan Smyth, and Mark Messier all shared a few memories and tributes to Rexall Place.

Mark Messier

I thought it was very fitting that the crowd did the wave today at the rally given that Rexall Place is the venue in which the wave was perfected.

The Oilers have been preparing for this all season long, of course. Here’s what they had to say about leaving the building earlier today:

“Hours before opening faceoff, media members and arena workers flooded the halls, snapping photos of the old barn. The current players laughed at the fond memories of their home building, while lamenting missed opportunities in recent seasons. The alumni shared stories with the media and with each other, some serious and others hilarious tellings of locker room happenings. The mood at Rexall Place’s final pre-game morning was more joyful and reminiscent than sad, but it is sure to be an emotional evening of goodbyes for all those with ties to a historic venue.”

You can see the pre-game, in-game, and post-game videos and other media here.

Farewell Rexall Place

Northlands itself also had some positive things to say about the building today:

“On behalf of our board, staff and volunteers we want to thank the Edmonton Oilers for an amazing partnership,” said Tim Reid, Northlands President and CEO.

They also pointed out that while the Oilers won’t be playing at Rexall Place anymore, there are still other events on the schedule including the 2017 Ford World Men’s Curling Championships next April which is the final qualifying event for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. But for pro hockey at least, tonight was the end.

Oilers Superfan

For the current team, next season and the brand new Rogers Place can’t come soon enough. It hasn’t been a great season, but at least they ended on a high note tonight with a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

You can see more photos from the lunch time rally here.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek (January 2016)

Today the City of Edmonton offered a sneak peek at Rogers Place, Edmonton’s new downtown arena slated to open in time for the 2016-2017 NHL season (there are 228 days until project completion according to the website). The $606 million project, which includes the arena, winter garden, community rink, LRT connection, and other amenities, has been under construction since March 2014. Today was the first time the public was allowed inside.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek
The Oilers flag at centre ice

I live just a few blocks away so have had an upfront view of all of the construction, but it was neat to get a look inside the building today.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek

I think they were very well prepared to handle a lot of people today, but the cold temperatures probably resulted in a smaller turnout than originally anticipated. I arrived just before 11am and there were a few hundred people in line. When I left about 45 minutes later, there was no line outside.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek

The project is being constructed on 9.5 acres of land right downtown and today we got to look at two elements of it. First, the community rink which will be home to the MacEwan University hockey teams. The rink will feature 1,000 seats for fans, and will be owned and operated by the City of Edmonton.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek

And of course, we got to step inside the main arena itself. Here’s a quick video of the view we had:

The building is 141 feet high, and I really felt that sense of scale today. The bowl feels rounder and more intimate than the current one at Rexall Place, even though the square footage inside the arena is 819,200 square feet compared to Rexall’s 497,700 square feet.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek

The capacity for hockey games is 18,641 but it can stretch to 20,734 in a centre stage concert setup or it can shrink down to about 4,500 for a small concert. Roughly 52% of the seats are in the lower bowl, compared to just 37% at Rexall Place, so more fans will be closer to the action.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek

There will be 56 suites and 24 mini suites in the new arena, plus 4,100 club seats and 1,116 loge seats. Oh, and those seats are all generally wider than the ones you’ll find at Rexall Place.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek
Bob Black explaining some of the features of the arena

Rogers Place is being constructed to the LEED Silver standard, as mandated by the City of Edmonton. There’s about 9,000 tonnes of structural steel and 24,000 cubic metres of structural concrete being used to bring it to life.

Rogers Place Sneak Peek

You can follow the construction at the Rogers Place website, and you can get all the facts on the project here. You can see more photos here.

Roundup: Edmonton’s downtown arena will be called Rogers Place

This afternoon at Startup Edmonton, Rexall Sports (or should that be the Edmonton Arena Corporation) announced that it has reached a deal with Rogers Communications on the naming rights for Edmonton’s new downtown arena. When it opens in 2016, it’ll be known as Rogers Place.

Rogers Place

Here’s what the folks involved had to say. First, Daryl Katz:

“Today’s announcement helps make the new arena a reality and underscores its potential to make downtown Edmonton a magnet for our community and for new investment by world-class companies like Rogers.”

Here’s what Rogers Communications Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer John Boynton said:

“Today’s announcement builds on our long-term commitment to the Edmonton Oilers, its hockey fans and our investment in Alberta. Rogers Place will be one of the most technologically enabled stadiums in North America; we look forward to bringing passionate fans a connected game experience powered by the country’s fastest LTE network.”

And here’s what Mayor Don Iveson said:

“This is a great day for Edmonton’s downtown and our city. Rogers Place will become a beacon in our downtown, one that will foster a new sense of energy that will further attract development and investment in the heart of our city.”

Here’s a look at how the arena is envisioned to fit into the new downtown:

The name certainly didn’t inspire everyone, but some were more annoyed by the revenue than the name. Under the terms of the agreement between City Council and Daryl Katz, his Edmonton Arena Corporation (EAC) would receive revenue from the naming rights:

EAC will operate the new arena and pay all operating and maintenance expenses, and will receive all operating revenues, including naming rights and parking revenue.

Of course, no financial terms were disclosed as part of today’s announcement. Rogers said the deal is part of its previously announced investment into Alberta:

Rogers announced on October 1st a $700M commitment over the next four years to further enhance and expand Rogers LTE – Canada’s fastest LTE network, open additional retail locations, fuel business growth and continue to build its presence in sports in Edmonton and across Alberta.

In addition to network enhancements, new retail locations, and new business services, Rogers acquired the official sponsorship and marketing rights for the Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Oil Kings, and Rexall Place.

Rogers Place

I’m happy that the arena has a name and has moved another step toward becoming a reality, but I do think this is a missed opportunity for Edmonton. Rogers benefits from this deal obviously, but Edmonton doesn’t because “Rogers Place” could be anywhere. This is something we get wrong so often, partly because of our “capital city curse” as I like to call it, but partly because we don’t have a strong brand to hang these sorts of things on. Sure, most arenas and sporting complexes carry a sponsored name, but isn’t that a great opportunity to be different? Instead, it’s all about the money.

David Staples seems to agree with me on this point:

“The first naming of the arena, back in 1974 when it was called the Edmonton Coliseum was the best. That was the right name for our building. It still is.”

Yup. Too bad.

Here’s some other reaction from around the web:

https://twitter.com/OilersNation/status/407971780406435840

https://twitter.com/EricWarnke/status/408089659978571776

https://twitter.com/uncleheth/status/408084022309289985

In a vote on the Cult of Hockey blog, “Rogers Coliseum” seemed to be the favorite choice, ahead of “Some other name entirely” and “Rogers Place” in last. In a poll on Global’s website, more than 60% said they didn’t like the name “Rogers Place”. You can watch an overview of the announcement at CTV Edmonton. Also check out the Huffington Post’s coverage here.

You can learn more about Rogers Place on its new website. You can also follow it on Twitter.

The Katz Group won’t build an Edmonton arena outside of downtown

The Charrette has a good discussion of the recent arena news. You’ve probably heard by now that the Katz Group is now on record saying they would consider alternate locations if the downtown arena doesn’t move ahead:

“We continue to believe that the best solution for the city and the Oilers is a downtown development and we remain committed to those negotiations. However, to the extent that we cannot be certain of the result of those negotiations, we are open to alternatives to find another long-term home for the Oilers in the Edmonton region.”

At this point a statement like that is nothing but political maneuvering. The Katz Group has never indicated they would look to build elsewhere prior to that statement, so I find it hard to believe it’s true. Here’s a look back at what I mean.

The Katz Group issued a press release on March 25, 2008 voicing its support for a new downtown arena complex. John Karvellas, Rexall Sports President, said:

“Rexall Sports shares the Committee’s view that a downtown arena complex can help revitalize Edmonton’s core and become the centrepiece for a number of major developments in the adjoining area, as similar projects have done for other cities.”

On August 31, 2009 the Katz Group appointed Patrick LaForge as its principal point of contact. He said:

“At the end of the day, we envision a vibrant downtown with new housing, retail, office and public space, hotels, residential housing and other amenities, all anchored by a world-class entertainment and sports venue. We envision a neighbourhood that is well-integrated with public transit, livable, walkable, environmentally responsible and a benefit to downtown, surrounding communities and all of Northern Alberta.”

On September 29, 2009 the revitalizedowntown.ca domain name was registered. The website didn’t launch until February 24, 2010. Here’s what I said at the time:

Annoyed with the domain http://www.revitalizedowntown.ca. Katz is certainly not the only person working to revitalize downtown #yeg.

Here’s what Bob Black said in a speech on February 9, 2010:

“In all of the public opinion research we have done, the opportunity to revitalize downtown is what has people most excited about this project. It is also the reason why the mayor and the city have made revitalizing downtown one of their top priorities.”

In a speech to City Council on July 21, 2010, here’s what Daryl Katz had to say:

“I believe we have a once in a generation opportunity — through the Oilers, and through the need for a new arena — to do something transformative for downtown and for our city.”

In December 2010, the answers to questions from Council were released. Councillor Thiele asked the Katz Group: If no new downtown arena district is built in Edmonton and the Oilers will not play in a renovated Rexall Place, where will they play? The response:

“Our singular focus is upon negotiating a mutually satisfactory agreement with the City of Edmonton that will facilitate the construction of a new downtown arena.  We are confident that this can be achieved.”

And here’s what Bob Black said on May 18, 2011 when the Katz Group and the City agreed on an agreement framework:

“From the beginning we have approached this project with the twin objectives of creating a major engine to drive the revitalization of downtown and of creating a model for the long term sustainability of the Oilers in Edmonton.”

So, after all that, they release a simple statement saying they’re exploring alternatives? I call bullshit.

But perhaps, as The Charrette pointed out, the damage is done. Either they’re lying about looking elsewhere, or they’ve been lying to us for three years about how important downtown is.

New Concept for Edmonton Arena in The Quarters Downtown

Earlier today, local architect Gene Dub released some conceptual drawings and a video rendering of a new arena for Edmonton’s downtown. The project would cost about $300 million, and while Dub has talked to the Katz Group they haven’t made any commitments. According to Global TV, the arena would be on the third floor of the unique-looking, reverse-cone shaped building with retail underneath.

Dub surprised everyone by unveiling his vision at a public hearing for The Quarters Downtown redevelopment plan. The new arena would be located along 103A Avenue between 96th and 97th Streets. I’ve drawn it on a map which you can see here. Currently there’s a whole lot of parking on the site and not much else. The visioning process for The Quarters Downtown began over two years ago. City Council approved the vision statement on September 26th, 2006:

The Quarters (Downtown East) will be a vibrant, healthy community comprised of five distinct areas, each with its own character, activities, and feel, structured around a unique linear park system running through the neighbourhood that provides a defining element for the community. The neighbourhood is well connected to the downtown core and river valley, yet has a distinct image that identifies it as a unique place in the city. Streets are improved with limited through traffic, making the streets safe and inviting for pedestrians and bicyclists. Large city blocks are broken into smaller, more inviting and walkable pieces. Activity abounds. There is a mix of parks, shops, employment, services, and housing. There is a diversity of ages, incomes, and cultures. Open space is surrounded by businesses and housing, creating a safe and inviting amenity year round. The Quarters is a place where community is important and pride and investment in the neighbourhood is evident.

I don’t think the proposed arena goes against that vision, but it’s not exactly a perfect fit, either. I’ve been critical of a new arena before, primarily because I don’t feel that public funding should finance the bulk of the project. I’d reconsider that if the arena was part of a redevelopment project such as The Quarters, however. It remains unclear whether or not the proposed site would be large enough for more than just the arena.

Here’s the video render:

It’s definitely eye-catching.

Wondering who Gene Dub is? He’s the architect behind Edmonton’s City Hall. His firm has received a number of awards over the years, including at least six for the glass-and-stone pyramids of City Hall. Dub also served one-term as a city councillor.

It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of this proposal – I’ll be keeping an eye on it. You can find more comments on the design here and here.

UPDATE (11/25/2008): The Edmonton Journal wrote about the concept here, with few additional details but comments from Dub and a couple councillors.

Scared of social media? Follow Batman's lead

batman One of my favorite movies is Batman Begins. Near the beginning of the film is a scene in which a young Bruce Wayne goes to see crime boss Carmine Falcone. As their conversation comes to a close, Falcone says:

This is a world you’ll never understand. And you always fear what you don’t understand.

I love this quote and often think of it when I come across an organization that seems to have trouble with social media (or citizen journalism, if you prefer). Pushback against social media, whether it’s against blogging, social networking, photography, Twitter, or something else, is almost always the result of fear caused by lack of understanding. Social media is a disruptive force, so if you don’t understand how it can be beneficial, it’s not surprising that it may at first seem scary.

The other reason I love this quote is that Falcone is wrong, of course – Bruce Wayne does eventually come to understand the crime world. It wasn’t easy, and it caused him to question himself and the way he perceived the world, but he became a better person because of it – he became Batman.

Getting over your fear of social media is simple:

  1. Admit that you don’t understand social media.
  2. Set out to rectify that.

In short, just follow Batman’s lead.

The natural result of completing those two steps is that you’ll be able to embrace social media and benefit from it.

Here are a couple of examples where local organizations didn’t follow Batman’s lead. Instead, they pushed back.

Century Hospitality’s Hundred: Everyone is a reviewer!

hundred bar kitchen Last Thursday, Sharon and I went to Edmonton’s new resto-pub downtown, called Hundred. It’s the latest member of the Century Hospitality family. As you may know, Sharon and I have been to dozens and dozens of restaurants in the last few years, and we’ve taken pictures of and reviewed all of them. So I was definitely surprised to find myself being questioned about taking photos at Hundred.

We follow a few simple guidelines when photographing our restaurant experience. First, we try to get pictures of both our dishes and the interior of the restaurant (sometimes the exterior too). Second, we do our best to avoid disrupting other guests – that’s why we never use the flash. We bought little tripods and have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get decent photos in low-light areas.

We were following both of these rules at Hundred when I was approached by the manager, Dean. He asked if he could help me, and I said no, just taking some photos. He then told me that I couldn’t just take photos without getting permission first. When I asked him why, he stumbled a bit and then said he had no way of knowing whether I was from a competitor or not. He asked what the photos were for, and I said a review on a blog. That seemed to confuse him, and he asked again. I gave him the URL for Sharon’s blog, and sensing that it wasn’t going anywhere, asked him for a card and promised to send him the link.

I think that Dean simply felt that he had lost control somehow. When he learned that I wasn’t from the Journal, Vue Weekly or another conventional publication, he immediately got defensive about my activity. That suggests to me a lack of understanding about social media. For an organization that tries so hard to be hip and trendy, I find this a bit disappointing.

Dean – what you need to remember is that it’s not just the mainstream press that will be talking about your restaurant. Real people will have conversations about it too. Social media enables these conversations to be written down and shared, and that can be scary at first. The correct response is not to try and prevent them from happening, but to learn about social media and figure out how you can participate. Learn how to track mentions of your restaurant online, and comment on reviews and photos when you find them. I’ll help you get started – here is Sharon’s review, and here are my photos.

The Edmonton Oilers: I’m blogging this!

edmonton oilers logoDave Berry is an editor at Vue Weekly, and was also one of the main contributors to the Covered In Oil blog. That makes him one of the unique few that have a foot in both the old and new media worlds. On Sunday, October 12th when the Oilers played the Avalanche, Dave was in the press box and with some time on his hands, decided to liveblog the game. He was approached by the Oilers’ press guy, and was told that blogging wasn’t an acceptable use of the press pass. He was told to stop and delete the post, and that if he didn’t he’d be ejected from the building.

You can read Dave’s account here. And via Battle of Alberta, here’s a cached version of the post Dave was writing.

Maybe Dave got in trouble because of his witty writing, or maybe he got in trouble because he failed to read the fine print on his press pass, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the Oilers press team wasted an opportunity to improve, an opportunity to understand social media and use it to their benefit.

Instead of threatening to kick Dave out of the box, they should have stopped and tried to learn more about what he was doing. Obviously they can’t issue press passes to everyone, but I’m pretty sure that Dave didn’t need a press pass to live blog the game. He could have done that from anywhere. The Oilers need to figure out how to work with bloggers, not against them.

I don’t know enough about the way the system works to comment beyond that. I think the Oilers may be restricted by the league in how they can engage with the media both offline and online, at least to a certain extent. I fully expect to hear from either the Oilers or the NHL one of these days, due to my creation and updating of the Edmonton Oilers account on Twitter. When asked if the NHL would try to protect Twitter accounts as intellectual property, Michael DiLorenzo, the NHL’s Director of Corporate Communications, simply said “not yet”. I’m hopeful for a positive outcome – after all, Michael himself is on Twitter.

Social Media is here to stay

The question is not whether bloggers, photographers, and others who publish things online should be ignored or treated like the mainstream media. The question is simply, what’s the best way to work with them?

I think it’s simple. Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know, and then find someone to help you. Stop being afraid of social media, and start embracing it. Follow Batman’s lead.

Hockey season returns: on the ice and in the blogs

nhl logo With variations depending on where you look, a few main categories tend to dominate the 130 million or so blogs available on the web. There are plenty of news and political blogs such as the Daily Kos, especially with the upcoming U.S. election. Some of the most highly-trafficked blogs focus on entertainment, such as TMZ. There are also lots of technology and business blogs, such as TechCrunch. And of course, there are millions of personal blogs written by people just like you. The Alberta blogosphere (blogs written by Albertans, taken collectively) has its fair share of blogs in each of these categories, as well as another popular category – hockey blogs.

Not only do Albertans love to watch hockey, they apparently love to write about it too! There are dozens of blogs about hockey in our province. At least 20 of them focus on the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers, or both. Perhaps the most well known of all of these blogs is The Battle of Alberta. Written by Calgarian Matt Fenwick and Edmontonian Andy Grabia (with various contributors from time to time) the blog covers all things related to the Flames and Oilers, and frequently hosts passionate discussions in the comments section. The Battle of Alberta was created in September 2005 and averages 1500 page views per day.

Edmonton writer and National Post contributor Colby Cosh doesn’t write solely about hockey, but he does post quite often about the Oilers on his blog. Other popular blogs devoted to the Oilers include Covered in Oil, Lowetide, Hot Oil, and Irreverent Oiler Fans. Don’t worry if you get hooked reading these blogs – many of them frequently post in the off-season, and there are plenty of other Oiler blogs you can check out. In fact, there are so many blogs that write about the Oilers that they have given themselves a name – the Oilogosphere.

There are quite a few blogs for Flames fans also. Some of the more popular ones include Five Hole Fanatics, Completely Hammered, Hit The Post, Inside the Flames, and Igniting the Flame.

The great thing about these blogs is that they’re written by passionate fans. These bloggers generally aren’t interested in making money, and as a result tend to post things that you wouldn’t necessarily find in your local newspaper. For instance, The Battle of Alberta has done an excellent job of pointing out the rhetoric coming from all parties involved in the potential new hockey arena in Edmonton. Also unlike newspapers, Alberta’s hockey blogs are free of any restrictions on format or content. You’ll find team analysis, game recaps, statistics, news and rumors about trades and signings, discussion of articles in the mainstream media, and much more.

And from time to time you’ll even find some humor amongst the blog posts. The members of the Oilogosphere like to use their own terms to refer to players, plays, and other things such as the Colin Campbell Wheel of Justice – which refers to “the method by which the length of NHL suspensions is determined.” You can find an up-to-date glossary on The Battle of Alberta – they update it each season.

I’m quite excited for the return of hockey, and I’m sure Alberta’s hockey bloggers are too!

The Oilers begin their preseason tonight at home to the Canucks. You can find the game notes and a live stream here. The Flames get underway tomorrow night at home to the Panthers.

Edmonton Oilers Arena Feasibility Report – Link Roundup

edmonton oilers Earlier this week, the nine-member committee studying the feasibility of building a new hockey arena in Edmonton released their report. It contains no surprises, and recommends that if a new facility is to be built, it should be built downtown. I’m sure you’ve heard all about it on the news, but there are lots of excellent blog posts on the story that should not be missed. Here they are, with quotes.

From Covered in Oil:

The other question, whether a new arena would be better off in another part of the City will have to go unanswered, as the Feasibility Committee didn’t seem to even bother to look anywhere else.

From Grandinite:

If I get the underlying logic of this development, bringing people downtown will bring in cash. but that cash will flow out of the area if the owners do not live downtown. Sure, money will be spent at restaurants and casinos, but where do the profits go?

From Colby Cosh:

I’m not too clear after reading the summary just what is wrong with the existing Rexall Place. I was looking forward to some clear public explanation of this, but all we’ve been given is a lot of wind about “downtown revitalization.”

From The Battle of Alberta:

Dear Mr. Lowe,

We already have a hockey shrine in Edmonton. It’s called the Northlands Coliseum. You might remember it. You won five Stanley Cups there.

A arena without a history of accomplishment is not a shrine. It’s a mall with seats.

From Fighting for Taxpayers:

Dr. Brad Humphreys, the foremost expert on the economic benefits of professional sport teams and arenas has proven that there is not an economic growth, but merely a shift of where the money is spent.

From daveberta.ca:

Of course I want Edmonton’s downtown to become vibrant, but building a giant hockey rink won’t automatically put Edmonton in a position to rival downtown Montreal or New York (like some of the article’s have alluded). I’m still not convinced that spending upwards of $450 million (plus land costs) on an arena that will draw the suburbs downtown for a couple hours 2-3 nights a week is what will revitalize downtown.

From Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying:

There will be a new arena and it will be downtown, any alternatives have pretty much been steamrolled over by the municipal government and the Edmonton media. There will be public funding, not direct tax increases, but by other means, and the province will give nothing.

From A Blog Of Pucks:

It would be an 18,000 seat 450 Million dollar arena. That’s great but once again I’ll ask the difficult question: Is this really going to make the wives like living in Edmonton any better? The committee better ask Pronger’s better half first.

And finally, this one isn’t a blog but an article at CBC today:

A new downtown Edmonton arena to replace Rexall Place could threaten one of the biggest annual events in the city, say officials with the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

The owners of Rexall Place, Edmonton Northlands, are ruling out the possibility of keeping it open as is, if a new arena is built.

“We can’t have two competing large-scale facilities,” Jerry Bouma, chair of the board, said Wednesday.

Also, be sure to check out this interview with Brad Humphreys.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Stay tuned.

Daryl Katz wants a new arena in Edmonton

rexallDaryl Katz, founder of the Rexall pharmacy company, announced yesterday that he had acquired 100% of the outstanding shares in the Edmonton Investors Group (EIG), making him the new owner of the Edmonton Oilers (pending league approval which is widely expected to come without any problems). Here’s what the somewhat reclusive Katz said in yesterday’s statement:

“Like the EIG and all Edmontonians, I want what is best for the team, the
community and the city. I want to help secure a world-class building and
continue the EIG’s legacy by bringing the Cup back to Edmonton.”

Today he held a press conference with select members of the media, which I listened to on 630ched. It was the first time since he started pursuing the Oilers last March that we’ve heard him speak about his motivations. I found most of his answers to be fairly simplistic, without much meat behind them. He said “I can’t comment on that” quite a few times.

One thing he did make clear, however, is that he is eager to see a new arena built in the heart of downtown. He wants the Oilers to play at the centre of the community.

Katz has suggested he’d be willing to commit $100 million towards the construction of a new arena. With estimates for the project ranging from $250 million to over $500 million (and possibly as high as $1 billion depending on the scope), there’s a lot of funding that will need to come from somewhere else. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe it should come from taxpayers. All Katz said today was that “there are lots of ways to fund real estate.”

I’m glad Katz is the new owner of the Oilers. Almost everyone associated with the team seems to like him, and I don’t think there’s any question that he’s got Edmonton’s best interests at heart. He also seems fairly level-headed about things, making clear today that he wants to read a pending report on the feasibility of a new arena before making any decisions.

That said, I hope his eagerness to build a new rink in Edmonton’s downtown does not turn into blind determination. Katz needs to be able to say no if it becomes clear that a new arena will only happen with significant public funding, at the expense of other, more important public projects.