An executive for the Katz Group says a publicly-financed arena downtown would be the heart of a 'once-in-a-generation' opportunity. ((Katz Group))

A plan to revitalize downtown Edmonton with a publicly-financed arena as its centrepiece was unveiled Tuesday by an official from the Katz Group, owner of the Edmonton Oilers.

Bob Black, executive vice-president of sports and entertainment for the Katz Group, made the designs public during a speech to the Building Owners and Managers Association.

Calling it a "once-in-a generation opportunity for Edmonton," Black said the city would build and own the arena, with the Katz Group and its partners financing the surrounding development.

That would include two hotels, a new casino, student residences and other commercial development in a package Black suggested would represent a $1 billion investment.

The development would be centred around the 16-acre parcel of land where the Baccarat Casino now stands, Black said, describing an area of shops and office towers and a public space dubbed the "Winter Garden".

"What it comes down to is this. Edmonton needs a new arena, and that need has created a singular opportunity," Black said. He said the opportunity begins with the idea of downtown revitalization, which has been a council priority for years.

"It's a model that's entirely consistent with the Mayor's Leadership Committee Report which recommended a mix of public and private funding," he said.

The arena — which Black suggested would cost around $400 million — would be "essentially self-funding," paid for with property taxes from the proposed surrounding development, he said.