Arena talks in Edmonton still stall as Oilers owner sends letter to city

In non-lockout news, you probably remember Oilers owner Daryl Katz going to Seattle to more or less threaten the city of Edmonton that if he didn't get a deal for a new $475 million downtown arena completed, he would consider moving the franchise.

It was a horribly transparent and idle threat that nobody really took seriously. Katz soon apologized for making such a gesture. It seemed like it might lead to the city and Katz's group getting back together to continue to try to find a compromise.

But that's still not going so well. From the Edmonton Journal:

The downtown arena deal is hanging by a thread after Oilers owner Daryl Katz refused a request Tuesday to appear in person and tell city councilors what he needs to complete the project.

"I'm not sure where we go from here," Mayor Stephen Mandel said. "It's frustrating. For whatever reason, he doesn't want to come to city council to talk about whatever the issues are.

"Negotiations are not in good shape."

Instead of showing up as was requested, Katz sent a letter to the city (which can be seen on the above link to the Journal's website). In that letter, he said the city wasn't really working toward a deal that was fair (where else have we heard that in recent months?) and made various other charges, such as the math not adding up, while noting the personal investments that he has been willing to make.

In other words, things are ugly. This isn't what progress looks like.

Naturally, Mandel challenged Katz's letter.

"I can add and subtract the same as you can," the mayor said. "This is an incredibly profitable deal."

That's not good news for the hockey fans in Edmonton. The Oilers have made it clear they need a new arena because Rexall Place -- which opened in 1974, when the team played in the World Hockey Association -- just isn't cutting it anymore.

The idea of moving the Oilers still seems ludicrous on the surface and seems unlikely to happen. But, at some point, push has to come to shove in some facet and something will have to happen. Maybe, just maybe, that could be Katz deciding to make a move with the franchise. No, not moving the franchise, but selling it. That suggestion comes courtesy of David Staples at the Journal.

Who knows if that would ever happen, but it would be the right thing should it ever come to that point. Edmonton is very clearly a great hockey city; nobody will dispute that. Those fans deserve to see the Oilers mature into what has the makings to be a great team in just a couple of years. It would be a shame if the team actually did move and those fans never saw the Oilers hit their potential (similar to the Sonics/Thunder in the NBA).

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