Sunday, October 2, 2011

The fight for something more: A new image for our city

The views expressed below are that of a stupid person who clearly has no idea what they’re talking about and is bound to take a lot of criticism because of their lack of comprehension of anything this world has to offer - Edmonton Critic

This is a conceptual drawing of the future of Downtown Edmonton as some would have it
"It's habitable right? Well as long as we have to put no money in, I'm good"

The debate on the Arena project in downtown Edmonton has seemed to be quite a fierce one. People opposing the arena project have great points like “But Daryl Katz shouldnt make money” or “Why can’t the oilers just keep playing in Rexall, the facility is fine”, to “Jesus man, give it a rest. You’re like an infant jumping up and down shouting how you want your new toy” or my personal favorite “You just love Daryl Katz, have lots of babies together”. I do love Daryl Katz, he makes one proud to be from Edmonton. His company is headquartered here, he grew up here and in case many of you don’t know, he has a couple of loonies in his change purse. I find it embarrassing that people automatically assume that all Billionaires are Mr.Burns. If you had a Billion dollars, would you own a property in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada? Seriously! Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Do you know how big the world is? How many other places are out there to set up shop? He could be wearing tight man-pants in London, or downin baguettes in Paris, Rome; he could buy the Colosseum for his sons football field. Amsterdam, NYC, LA, Sydney, or Berlin all seem like places a Billionaire is likely to rest his loins. He CHOSE Edmonton. Does that mean nothing to you guys? He could invest his money all over the world and likely could make way more money exploiting diamonds in Africa or maybe he could set up some sweatshops in China to really make some serious dough but Noooooooo he’s decided to invest in stupid old Edmonton. He also chose to donate money to the Art Gallery in Edmonton or The University of Alberta. Clearly, lets not focus on that though. The #AntiArena crowd would rather have you focus on the fact that 3 years of discussions between Katz and city council were not good enough for developing the framework on the deal. They like to point out “DARYL KATZ IS GETTING 100% of REVENUE!”. That’s basically their only point. Really. As soon as I see the revenue comment, I know that the person is not informed. If it’s looking further ahead than the time it takes to pee, there’s no point accepting that as a valuable piece of the agreement. The City has a guaranteed tenant in their building (THAT THEY OWN LAND AND BUILDING) for 35 years. They have to pay ZERO in maintenance, operating and RENOVATION cost ( People say, “But HEY!, Its a new arena, what kind of renovation are you going to have”. See previous pee comment. #pee. This is why I get upset with the revenue question. Anyone who doesn’t think there will be a renovation (as we’ve seen from the HOK, in 2011, that is likely over $250M ( is out to lunch. In 2031, when citizens of Edmonton demand rocket powered seats, the City is not responsible for this. They have a one time cost and that’s important.

In order to provide a comparison of a similar situation, I’d like to look at Winnipeg. Not Vancouver, not Toronto, not Vancouver. Winnipeg! The same Winnipeg that just took over for Edmonton as the NHL’s smallest market. Yes, I understand that the Oilers have high ticket prices and that they do well on revenue but this arena complex is for our DOWNTOWN, NOT THE OILERS. Edmonton’s MARKET SIZE is the 2nd lowest in a list of 30 cities that have an arena somewhere that houses hockey. The Oilers are only at RX2 for 41/365 nights a year. So linking the Oilers revenue and ticket prices to this deal is unsubstantiated in my opinion.

Winnipeg built their arena to get an NHL team back. If they charge more money than LA, does that make their market size any bigger? No. They used Federal, Provincial and Municipal government money to assist in building their arena ( Now originally this figure was $40.5M put into construction but since the announcement of the NHL, they have received further commitments of nearly $100M in VLT gaming revenue.( A key also when talking about Winnipeg is that True North Sports and Entertainment OWNS THE RINK (unlike in Edmonton where THE CITY WILL). One of the most important things that I’d like to see the city do is to lock in that cost. The construction cost has already been approved as capped at $450M but I’m talking about special deals like the VLT one above that happen after the construction is complete. I think this is a fair deal now but with the $100M coming from elsewhere (Province, Feds, Lottery (WRP initiative)) as well as the City being completely out of other financing that could be asked for in the future. Now, this is in the framework already, for the city not being responsible for the Operation, maintenance & any future renovation, but I just want to make sure that it’s being followed through as that’s a big part of this deal in my opinion. (Again see: for all the deatils on the current framework as proposed)

Do I want the city to receive revenue? Yes. Are they getting some directly? No. What they are getting is as I mentioned above, zero cost on maintaining and renovating a building that they own. Do I think that they’ve received an equal value for their share of money? Saying yes and leaving it at that isn’t fair. I think that Edmonton has neglected its downtown for about 20 years. Since I moved here 15 years ago, the Epcor tower is the only new commercial building that I can remember going up. As a result of that, it’s my feeling that Edmonton is paying a premium to be able to have this opportunity. Sure, we could all get behind a reno of RX1 but what the hell does that do for our city? This is not about the inside of the building for me, its about the image of our city.


I was at the Citadel last year for a wedding, after it, I was walking back to my car when a family from Holland (I believe) tried to get into Canada Place but the door was locked. They turned to me and commented “I can’t get in this building?”, I was confused that CANADA PLACE had no place where visitors could check out on the weekend, even during the weekday, it sure looked like it sucked in there. So they then asked me “What else is there to do?”. Standing there like Kurtis Foster on a 2 on 1, I froze like the pylon I was. The only festival I could think of that was going on was Heritage days, so I asked them if they’d been there......”yup.”. “Been to Whyte ave?”, “yup”. I was at a loss and embarrassed that my city had so little to offer other than the festival of the week. Any great city has areas that you can explore for the day. You check out a couple things, go for a bite, stay in that same area and then go do some shopping. That’s basically the typical travellers handbook. Please don’t say that I think that Edmonton is going to compete with Paris for tourism but you do have to understand that it will impact Tourism (travelling outside of the place where you pay taxes to use their facilities and contribute to their economy). The more people that are coming from Kimberley, BC (@randomhero79) or Lethbridge, AB (@Oilers4SAlberta) or Red Deer, AB (@oilerfaninrd) the better. Yes, that is still tourism. Having a "piece" of a rink in one of the most dreary places in the city is what we would like to showcase as “Edmonton” hey? When you walk up to Rexall, you don’t think “WOWWWWWWW, Coooooooool”. You keep your head down and hope that you can get to the gate where the security can protect you. Obviously I’m exaggerating but I want to be proud of my city. Those of you who hate hockey, good for you. This city is one of the most hockey mad places in the world. Not just for the Oilers though haters, the brick minor hockey tournament is one of the biggest ones in Canada (/the world. hockey=Canada). I do remember playing in one in Quebec that was MASSIVE so I’m not sure which is bigger. Anyway, my point is that, why not focus the revitalization of our old looking downtown with hockey. Seems like a great idea to me. For those of you say that its for millionaires/billionares, I say you`re on the wrong side of a smart individual. You think kids go to the library and see a book and say “WOWWWWWWW, cool Mom, Moby Dick!”. No. They go to the arena and see great role models like Jordan Eberle or Jordan Eberle! (On purpose). Hockey is not JUST a game. I hate when people are so dense that they don’t see the life lessons being learned (Not everyone learns in libraries). Hockey teaches you to always WORK TOGETHER, how to not just talk game but to LEAD BY EXAMPLE, to NOT QUIT, to STAND UP FOR PEOPLE or to not always have to score. ASSISTING SOMEONE ELSE is just as important as doing it yourself. The points are the same.

Do I support new bridge construction, commercializing the River Valley while maintaining its beauty or getting rid of the Water Treatment Plant downtown somehow? Yes. In fact I do. Do I support the Art Gallery or Royal Alberta Museum? You bet I do. Will I ever go? I dunno, will there be a downtown area that I’ll find myself going to often and keep walking by it thinking, I should just check this thing out? If that’s the case then yes I will go. Some people like Art, some people like reading, do I discriminate against them? nope. As a fan of hockey, have I been discriminated against for my view that I’d like the arena? Yes. Do I care? No. Its the internet, dumb comments are made all the time. Look at this article your reading. Purely ridiculous commenting. I’ve been looped into the fact that I love the Oilers and that’s why I support the arena. I actually don’t care where the Oilers play, Im going to go and see them wherever that is. Hence, why I go to that area to attend the games. Last year for about the first 2 months of the season, the staircase up to my seats WAY UP HIGH smelt like poo. Yes, that poo, it was disgusting and I was embarassed to bring people that didnt already smell like this. I mentioned the other day that I would certainly go to more Oil Kings games and other Rexall events if they were Downtown to which I received comments that summed up: I was a liar. Basically that if I would go to RX1 for Oiler games, then I would go to RX1 for Oil Kings games, like this person knew me and how I tend to allocate my entertainment dollars. I have never been to an Oil Kings game, I would go to Oil Kings games to watch Oilers prospects. I’m not that hardcore that I’m going to make the trek to the Northside to do so. I went to a couple of Edmonton Capitals games this year. Because I like baseball? No, I actually hate watching baseball live but it’s really close for me to do and the Capitals have done a great job of providing Entertainment at the game outside of the game itself. They realize that its about cheap tickets, food and beer. The Oil Kings could do the same but they know they’re getting weak crowds now because its not convenient for the majority of the population to go. In case we’ve lost this concept, Downtown is in the centre of a city. Also known as the Downtown CORE. This could be translated that you have to have a strong core before it can be extended. This is the purpose of the revitalization project.

You have to respect that Katz is a business man. Anyone who has any concept of what it takes to be a successful business knows that information is key. Along with that information comes QUICK, informed decisions. This 3 year process is likely eating away at him worse than an unfinished Coke eats through a McDonald’s cup. Yes, there have been some slip ups on the PR part of this deal but is it a good deal? That's for you to answer for yourself. Get informed, make a decision. We are where we are. Now what are we going to do?

I support this project because I LOVE the City of Edmonton. My heart has always been here but I’ve lived in Edmonton for 15 years now and my family has been here for over 100 years. Everytime I would come here as a kid, I never wanted to leave. My grandparents were born in Edmonton. I would like to claim that I probably care more about this city than most that just come to work for a couple years with the idea that they will move back ``home``. Well people, this IS MY HOME. For now and forever.

PS - This is the most words that I have put into a word document since I typed “asd;kljfalksdjflajsdfalsdkjfa;lsdkjf” to improve my typing WPM in Grade 7.

PPS - There are holes in this article, it took 3 years for City Council to finish their job. Cut me some slack if I didn’t want to make this article 25 pages to portray all my feelings on every fine detail. I suggest reading the framework link ( for almost all questions that you have on the project. City Council has done a great job protecting your interests. Don’t listen to me or others, make your own call by informing yourself on the subject. This document is the most informative piece that I have read. If you care, you should read it too.


rubbertrout said...

I usually prefer more boobs in the JSBM articles but I'll accept this. FOR NOw.

More boobs please in any event.

David S said...

You won't see any double rainbows around RX1, I can pretty much guarantee that.

I'm really worried about this project. Saw Mandel on Global news a couple of days ago and he looked like someone just revoked his underground heated parking space when the news reporter was asking him how the arena district negotiations were going.

edmontoncritic said...

I saw those interviews, he looked defeated. I just want to let them know that they've done a great job so far. If you give up now, what was it all for?

Vintage Flame said...

You should have told the people from Holland to get in their car, drive 3 hrs down Highway 2 and don't look back! That would have been sound advice!

Good stuff EC. I like the take on increased attendance for the Oil Kings with a new arena location. There just might be something to that.

I think Edmonton faces a lot of resistance to Sport development because their is a more Liberal attitude up there. It's more about the Arts and stuff. hard to justify a new arena especially in a market that has suffered, and like you said, was the smallest in the NHL.

GREAT points on the loyalty Katz has shown to the city as well. Should be a strong selling point, if more people paid attention to it.

Pierson said...

All I have to say is Why not a new arena? Im tired of going to the shit hole Coliseum and getting fondled trying to get in and out of the building and getting to the bathroom, it could almost be called orgy for fuck sakes, if that kind of touching happened at work you would be in jail for sexual harassment. Another thing is people bitching about the government helping out but just consider the government spent or is spending between 400 and 500 million between the art gallery and the new royal alberta museum, now between those 2 buildings and and arena which do you think will get more use? The arena isnt only for hockey either, there is lacrosse, car shows, monster trucks, performances ( walking with dinosaurs etc), concerts. Now throw in the buildings that will be put up around the new arena and how much property tax will the city make off of that over the next 30, 40, 50 yrs? If it helps downtown look less like a shithole ghetto and stops the molesting trying to get to the bathroom its worth every single penny in my mind.

edmontoncritic said...

Since a recent trip to Europe, I have a whole new appreciation for arts. I even went to the Louvre. Now granted, I stood there blankly staring at the canvas wondering what this is all about but to each their own. I like sports, I like hockey. Hockey is my art! As far as the art gallery goes here, its an unbelievable building. Even if I never set foot in it, its adding value to my city just by the way it looks on the outside. We need more inspired designs like that.

David S said...

I am liking the diversity of posts here at the new JSBM. This site could become the thought leader for a whole new generation.

*Stretches the truth*

Paul Poulsen said...

Great post and great feedback in the comments!

The EAD needs your support so on top of discussing the development online, find a few minutes today to call 311 and let them know that a downtown arena has your support!

Sorry to hijack an excellent post. Back to your regularly scheduled programing.

justincider said...

I forgot all about the new arena debate after I read this from the boys at " the copper and blue ."

edmontoncritic said...

The question isnt that IF it will get done, its WHEN? There are some who oppose the arena itself but I think very few. The sticking point is the deal itself which I see as fair when compared to another market thats closer in size to Edmonton than Toronto or Vancouver. In Edmonton' s next arena negotiation, maybe they can do 100% private because DT is so amazing by then.

If people want to use Ottawa as an example, their arena is in Kanata, not even Ottawa. Id rather the oilers keep playin in RX1 than to build an arena in another mis-used part of town. Play there until we have an open roof stadium (if ya catch my drift)

The city has done quite well getting fair value for their dollars. Better than Winnipeg. Not as good as Van, Tor, Mtl. Isnt that expected? Seems right to me

David S said...

For all the whining you hear from the anti-arena crowd, I've yet to see exactly what the personal financial impact might actually be. I mean, what sort of possible tax increases might we be talking about here? If it's anything like fifty bucks a year pr something like that, then for me it becomes a non-issue.

This "not one red cent" talk is crap. If you think about the bigger picture being the possible redevelopment of a significant chunk of downtown, then I think an investment is not only prudent but good long-term business sense. At some point we're going to have to spend some money on our downtown as it's not going to get any better otherwise.

This city needs a kickstart, which no sane person can dispute. If it happens that the arena project is the catalyst required for this to happen, then what's the real fricken objection here?

David S said...

baggedmilk said...

Who goes here? Another fantastic new writer at JSBM? One who can post on his own? That's a fucking brilliant piece of journalism you've done here, dude. You're doing a great job so far.

*crawls back into bed*

David S said...

I demand* a statement from Jeanshorts!

*Not really

edmontoncritic said...


Youre probably not far off on your $50. If even that. Only thing the avg taxpayer should see increase on is the increase in services required around the developed area. Fire, Police etc.

Users pay more than anyone so if anyone has a right to bitch its them. For the others, I know this great place called Sakatchematoon or "The town that rhymes with fun" that would be happy to have them. Boring, crappy cities would seem like a great place to live.

Edmonton needs to move in. We are becoming a world energy superpower! Seriously, its time we started acting like one.

David S said...


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