5 questions: Daryl Katz & a new home for the Oilers

Who is Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz? Why does the team need a new home? Will that home still be in Edmonton, or will the team move to Seattle? We here at try and answer your questions about the recent news surrounding the Oilers future.
Daryl Katz, right, is photographed with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Who is Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz? Why does the team need a new home? Will that home still be in Edmonton, or will the team move to Seattle? We here at answer questions surrounding the recent news surrounding the Oilers future.

1. Who is this Daryl Katz fellow? And how do you pronounce his last name?

Oilers owner Daryl Katz (pronounced "Kate's," not "Cats") ranks among the top 10 wealthiest Canadians (accodring to Forbes, he has a net worth of approximately $2.43 billion). The Chairman and CEO of the Katz Group, he made his fortune through the Rexall Pharmacy chain. He's also an Edmonton native who grew up watching the Oilers as a kid and realized a childhood dream when he bought them in 2008.

Edmontonians seemed happy to have a local boy running the team...until the current snafu over a new arena for the team and his trip to Seattle last week (where that city's plans for a new $490 million US arena were being unveiled).

2. What's wrong with the Oilers current home?

Aside from the fact that it’s in Edmonton? Just kidding, we love you, Edmonton. You’re the City of Champions. Serious answer: As far as hockey ‘barns’ go, Rexall Place is the third oldest (opened in 1974) currently in use in the National Hockey League. And while it’s no Nassau Coliseum, it’s also no Madison Square Garden, which is also undergoing massive, costly renovations.

3. Didn’t Katz and the City of Edmonton have a deal already?

Well, it seems that Katz and Edmonton officials had hammered out an agreement before the Oilers said they needed more compensation for arena management costs.

From our friends at The Canadian Press: "Last October, when council and the Oilers struck the current deal for the $450-million arena [which is now at $475 million], the deal was changed again. The Oilers would not put up $100 million for construction, but would pay $5.5 million a year for three decades in lease payments.

"In return, the Oilers would keep all revenues from Oiler games, trade shows, concerts, and other events at the new arena for 11 months out of the year. Concession sales alone are estimated at $20 million a year.

"The team would also get naming rights for the rink [valued between $1 million and $3 million a year] and $20 million from the city over 10 years for advertising.

"The cost to Katz, besides the $5.5 million a year lease payments, was an estimated $10 million a year to operate the building. That $10 million cost has become the main stumbling point in the talks.

"Two weeks ago, the Oilers, in a letter delivered behind closed doors to city council, said they have had another look at the numbers and now feel more public money is needed to keep the team viable in the city, including an annual $6 million subsidy from taxpayers to run the arena."

Needless to say, the city (while a fan of the Oilers) is no fan of paying Katz another $6 million per year, hence the current stalemate.

4. So they need a new arena, but can’t agree on the costs. What kind of deadline are we looking at?

The Oilers’ lease on Rexall Place expires in less than two years, so the clock is ticking on a new building to be constructed if it’s to be completed by the time for the NHL lockout is over. Whoops. I mean the totally uninterrupted 2014-15 NHL season.

5. How have fans reacted to the Seattle trip?

Unsurprisingly negative. Katz's trip to Seattle during an NHL lockout has gone about as well as one expects after poking an angry bear with a second sharp stick.

Many fans took that trip as well as someone saying to them "Enjoying the lockout? Well, what if hockey NEVER came back to town?"

That didn't sit well with fans, who aired their grievances about the Seattle sojourn on Twitter:

In an apology issued on Saturday, Katz wrote that he "took for granted your support and your love of the Oilers. That was wrong, and I apologize."

The trip to Seattle looks more like a move for leverage to get a deal done in Edmonton, especially with this comment from the apology letter: "The simple fact is that the Oilers need Edmonton, and Edmonton needs the Oilers. Each is an integral part of the fabric and identity of the other. We are continuing to work with City Administration to forge a win-win partnership that will benefit our city and that we can all be proud of. I hope we can count on your support."

With files from The Canadian Press