A new social media strategy launched by Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz this week has generated a lot of discussion about his vision for a new downtown arena, Katz Group spokesman Bob Black said Thursday.
"We've had tremendous amount of activity on the sites, the Facebook, Twitter and You Tube pages. That really shows that Edmontonians are really engaged in this process," he said.
In addition to launching the Twitter and Facebook pages, the company also posted a video featuring Katz on You Tube, to drum up support for the controversial proposal. But Black insists all comments - pro and con - will stay there for all to read.
"We fully intend that this be a discussion," Black said. "We have no intention of removing contrary views from the social media platforms ... we will certainly be monitoring the comments and where possible, we will be directing people to information which we hope will be seen by them as responsive to their concerns."
Katz - who is the Edmonton-raised billionaire owner of the Rexall Pharmacy chain - had been criticized for months for not being open what he had planned for the site.
Earlier this month, the Katz Group revealed its vision for the project, which would have the arena anchor a larger development around the current Baccarat Casino site. The development would have a casino, residences, shops and restaurants, in addition to the arena which would replace the aging Rexall Place.
Katz does a good job at explaining his vision in his You Tube video, Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel said, adding he hoped it would be the start of more discussion with the community.
"The really important thing is to get things out for the public to see and to start that dialogue he talked about," Mandel said. "For this to be successful, we really need to have Edmontonians engage, and Mr. Katz talked about that so, we look for that engagement part of it."
While Katz will be involved in the process occasionally, Black has been made the spokesperson for the project.
Two weeks ago, Katz spoke about his arena in an interview with Oilers Radio Network/630 CHED. However, he has yet to make himself available to other media organizations to answer questions about his proposal.