Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel laid out an arena funding plan in his annual State of the City address, but the formula already faces opposition from Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz, who is against a ticket tax.
Mandel argues that the Oilers are in danger of leaving if a downtown replacement for Rexall Place is not forthcoming — a logical argument — thus necessitating the need for an arena funding plan. The issue has been studied and studied more and studied even more, so there’s little that can be called a surprise in Mandel’s plan: a combination of tax-increment financing (the Canadian version of it, anyway), monies currently spent on Rexall Place and ticket taxes would comprise the majority of the city’s contribution. Not a single surprise.
The City Council is ready to move forward on the issue and is expected to discuss a funding plan today. There’s one huge problem: Katz is now against a ticket tax that would raise between $95 and $125 million toward the arena’s $450-million cost. A ticket tax is seen as a fair way for a public contribution: those using the arena would actually be helping to pay for it. Right now the Edmonton population is split on the idea of public funding of a new arena, and for Katz to object to this form of payment so late in the game is a little odd, to say the least.
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