Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz has confirmed that neither he nor any representatives of the Katz Group will appear at Wednesday's city council meeting to discuss the downtown arena.
In a letter to Mayor Stephen Mandel that was released to the media on Tuesday afternoon, the Oilers owner claims the city and the Katz Group remain far apart in discussions about the downtown arena "both on substance and process."
There are 15 open issues in the discussions, he writes, and "we will not make a proposal to city council that does not have administration's support."
"Accordingly, and respectfully, we will not appear at tomorrow's meeting of city council."
City council rejected a request for more money last month after the Katz Group said that "an iconic arena" could not be built for $450 million, the maximum price set in last year's framework agreement.
That prompted Mandel to set the Oct. 17th deadline for Katz or his representatives to come to a public council meeting and explain what else they need from a deal.
In the letter, Katz says he is "extremely disappointed" in the city's recent communications, and says that "we have gone backwards."
"I fear the city has approached this negotiation based on narrow political considerations rather than a genuine desire to strike a deal that is fair and makes economic sense for both sides," he writes.
Katz ends the letter by stating that "his door is open" if administration wishes to keep talking. He also reminds the city that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman can come to Edmonton to help make a deal.
'Not sure where we go from here'
Mandel said that he doesn't agree with many of the statements Katz made in the letter.
"I'm not sure where we go from here," he told reporters at city hall.
"So it's frustrating that, for whatever reason, he still doesn't want to come to city council to talk about whatever his issues are, and I would think that's still an important part of how we move forward."
As for Katz's suggestion for Bettman get involved, Coun. Linda Sloan believes the NHL commissioner has his hands full with the current lockout.
"He has no business giving any direction relative to an agreement that is going to be between Mr. Katz and the city of Edmonton," she said.
'A very sad day'
Other councillors expressed confusion and frustration over Tuesday's developments.
"I don't understand this letter," said Coun. Dave Loken. "I think what's on the table is a reasonable deal."
"I'm deeply disappointed that we have reached to a point where negotiations totally have broken off," Coun. Amerjeet Sohi said. "It's a very sad day."
Coun. Ben Henderson said that council's job is to represent the people of Edmonton.
"I don't think we're in a situation or a position right now where the support is there from the citizens of Edmonton to do this at any cost," Henderson said.
"And if Mr. Katz thinks that's a lack of political leadership, then I really think he's really underestimating and misunderstanding and undervaluing the kind of commitment that we've made to try and make this happen. And I guess I take affront to that."
Sloan doesn't know if a deal can be reached. But Coun. Tony Caterina believes Katz has sent council a clear message.
"Each side had the opportunity to walk away if an agreement couldn't be reached at any point," he said. "And I'm taking this now that The Katz Group has walked away."