Oilers' owner Katz hopeful arena deal can be reached
Daryl Katz 'concerned about the implications' of council decision to cut off negotiations
Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz says he is still hopeful an arena deal can be reached with the city even though councillors have ended negotiations.
"We are concerned about the implications of the motion passed yesterday by city council," Katz said in a brief press release released Thursday.
"We do not yet have a view on what comes next, but we remain hopeful that there is a solution that achieves the mutual goal of securing the Oilers' long-term sustainability in Edmonton."
On Wednesday, council unanimously passed a motion ending all talks with the Katz Group.
It came one day after Katz announced in a letter that he would not attend the meeting to explain his outstanding issues with last year's framework deal.
Talks started to go awry in August when Katz representatives demanded an annual $6 million operating subsidy, something the city would not agree to.
'Everyone needs to take a deep breath'
Despite the apparent impasse, councillors weren't writing off the arena entirely.
"I don't think anybody thinks that the idea of a new arena in the city is gone," said Coun. Ben Henderson. "I think we are sadly we are back at square one."
Going back to work with Katz however won't be easy, he said.
"The trust bond with us and the trust bond with the citizens of Edmonton ... is really seriously broken," he said.
"It's one of the things unfortunately now is a much bigger hill than it was where we were a year ago."
"The feeling was there is not point in continuing to work on a framework that (Katz) clearly wasn't going to stand by anymore."
The councillor who introduced Wednesday's motion hopes that this marks a turning point in negotiations.
"We really need to get these negotiations out of the media, and we're guilty of that as well," Coun. Dave Loken said. "We need to get them out of the media and into the boardroom."
Fans not happy with Katz
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also weighed in on the situation.
"I think everyone needs to take a deep breath," he said.
"The Oilers need a new arena. The city of Edmonton needs a new arena, and I'm hopeful that despite the breakdown in negotiations, reason will prevail and we'll get it to the right place."
Wrangling over the arena has gone on for several years and many Edmontonians have become exasperated, particularly with Katz.
"He's rich. He should just pay for the arena. He's going to make so much money off of it," said Katy Kennedy who says she'd like Edmonton to have a new arena.
"I think that he should be more compromising. It's his team. Basically his idea."
"He's a PR nightmare, really," said Jerry Aulenbach. "I don't know if the city has any better solutions. It looks like we're going to be stuck with the old arena for awhile."
Aulenbach wonders if the current situation will encourage Katz to reconsider his strategy.