There’s a $100-million funding gap in the current Edmonton Oilers (NHL) arena plan, and city officials say there’s a painless way to fill it: divert gambling revenues to the project.
Earlier this week the Edmonton City Council passed a funding program for a $450-million downtown arena calling for $100 million from the team, $125 from the city and $125 million from ticket taxes. That leaves a gap of $100 million, and city councilors said they would be asked for provincial help to fill that gap.
But provincial officials are cool to the notion, saying Edmonton could use existing provincial infrastructure funds to pay for the arena. That would delay or scrap projects where money has already been pledged.
A solution seems to be emerging: using provincial gambling proceeds to fill the $100-million gap. The Baccarat Casino will sit next to the new arena and presumably benefit from the increased traffic in the area generated by the new arena. The city sees nothing in terms of revenues from the casino; profits go to the Alberta Lottery Fund. Diverting 15 percent of these revenues would put the funding plan for the new arena over the top.
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