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Report: New arena needs 30-year commitment from Oilers

Proposed Edmonton arena{jathumbnail off}

If a new downtown Edmonton arena is to work, the city needs a 30-year commitment from the Edmonton Oilers (NHL), measurable targets for revenue from concerts and other events, and a specific number of days the facility can be used by the community, according to a report released by city officials.

The report, yet another document in the prolonged debate over a new downtown arena, generally echoed what many city officials and the Oilers braintrust had alread laid on the table. It calls for the Oilers to manage the facility, but rather than reporting directly to the city a new nonprofit foundation would be set up to own the new arena, similar to the Saddledome Foundation, which acts as landlord for the Calgary Flames.

Other than that, it had what was expected and did not address budgetary issues to a great degree, noting the offer of $100 million from the Oilers and an expected contribution of $250 million from the city, mostly generated with a ticket tax and new tax revenues generated by the project via a Community Revitalization Levy. That still leaves a funding gap of $100 million; you can expect the provincial government to be asked about addressing that funding gap.

We’re not entirely sure to what extent this new report forwarded the arena discussion in Edmonton, except for one issue: it failed to include Northlands in the arena equation. And that’s sure to have some repercussions in coming discussions, as the Northlands folks have insisted to date that there’s room both for the new arena and Rexall Place in the market. Sadly, that’s not true.

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