Edmonton's mixed feelings on Katz apology
Oilers fans aren't all convinced by the the letter of apology sent by team owner Daryl Katz on Saturday.
‘It’s as transparent, to be honest, as the threat to relocate," said Ryan Batty, one of the writers of Copper and Blue, a blog about the team.
"I don’t think there’s anything to it. I think we’re basically in the same place we were four days ago," he said.
In the letter, Katz alludes to his recent trip to Seattle, a city which recently approved funding for a new arena, saying he was frustrated with negotiations and was trying to send a message to City Council that "they should not take my support for a new arena for granted."
Batty said Katz should have known that there would be a backlash from fans, especially considering they have continued to attend games through the team’s recent losing seasons.
"The idea that that’s not good enough in some way? I can understand why fans got a little upset," Batty said.
"There are a lot of fans who want to think that hockey is not a business. But hockey is a business."
Other Oilers fans, like Andrew Zawirucha, felt the apology was sincere.
"It is what it is … but to backtrack, at least he kind of recognizes that what he did was dumb," he said.
Zawirucha added he hopes Katz's move will mean smoother negotiations in the future.
Apology 'a tiny step,' says councillor
In the letter, Katz said he underestimated how much of the responsibility for making a case for public money would fall on him.
Batty says he was surprised by that sentiment.
"He’s asking for half a billion dollars. That’s not a rubber stamp kind of thing," he said.
City councillor Kerry Diotte says he was pleased by the apology, but said more needs to be done by both sides to secure the arena deal.
"It’s a tiny, but good, first step," he said.
"It’s one thing to write a letter, it’s another to put those words into action."
Diotte reiterated his call for the Katz Group to provide more information to the city, including a look into the team’s finances and the reasons behind the need for more public investment.
"I’m in favour of a downtown arena, but it has to be win-win," he said.
Earlier this month, Mayor Stephen Mandel set October 17 as a deadline for the Katz Group to meet with Council to discuss outstanding issues. Diotte says at some point, the negotiations will need to be opened up.
"Let’s discuss it in public. Let’s open up the doors."