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Katz ups arena offer to $200M; city willing to talk

Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz has doubled his offer to help finance a new downtown arena, but before the city is ready to act councillors have lots and lot of questions. Still, Katz is closer than ever before to achieving his dream of a downtown arena.

Katz’s offer came during a City Council meeting last week and was a stunner, to be sure: he’s moved from $100 million toward surrounding development to $200 million for the arena. With the projected cost of the arena coming down in recent months thanks to lowered construction costs and the lowered costs of borrowing money, all of a sudden a downtown arena is financially feasible for all sides involved.

Still, the offer comes with a few caveats. The biggest: Katz is warning that his offer won’t last forever and that he doesn’t see Rexall Place as being a viable long-term option. To that end, he’s said the team will move from Edmonton once the Rexall Place lease ends in 2014; fixing it up is just not an option. Without a mainline tenant and a brand-new competitor, Rexall Place will undoubtedly become economically unviable — and that’s distressing some Northlands folks, who say they’ll carry on even with a new arena.

The City Council is willing to talk, and to that end staffers have generated some 140 questions for Katz and his staff. We’re expecting Katz to demur on some answers — questions that basically ask him to lay out his business plans will likely be sidestepped — but the more specifics laid out the better.

RELATED STORIES: Edmonton: New downtown arena financially feasible Katz: I will spend $100 million on new downtown arena; Edmonton: Cheaper to renovate than to build new downtown arena; Oilers arena zoning hearing delayed; Katz group submits arena application to Edmonton

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