The Edmonton Oilers need a new arena, that’s for sure. The Rexall Place is the third oldest and the third smallest venue in the NHL. Although the ice surface at Rexall Place has long been considered the best surface in the NHL, everything else about the arena seems old and antiquated.
However, there are plans to build a new arena in the shape of an oil drop in Edmonton. It looks pretty good and a much needed upgrade for the Oilers, but the team and the city of Edmonton are disagreeing over, you guessed it, money. The city wants Oilers owner and billionaire Daryl Katz to come up with $55 million to close the gap in funding. Katz is staying quiet on the issue, but the choice should be an obvious one, spend the extra cash.
Free Agent Magnet
There’s nothing like a new arena to attract free agents to want to play for you. Look at the Brooklyn Nets and the Dallas Cowboys after they received shiny new arenas, sure they don’t have a title since moving in, but they have attracted free agents.
An arena with new features, new locker rooms, and new equipment is actually bigger than you think when it comes for a player to find a new team. The Oilers already have a young and very talented core around them, but it definitely couldn’t hurt to add in some veterans and with a brand new arena and the talent the Oilers have, it could be the new hot place to play for.
Solidify Oilers Future
The Edmonton Oilers are an extremely popular team in Alberta. They have a fantastic fanbase with diehard, dedicated fans. You wouldn’t think a team like that would move out of town, or would you?
Just last year, Katz and his henchmen visited the city of Seattle, gauging their interest in an NHL team. Seattle is currently in the process of trying to build an arena for a potential NBA team and possibly an NHL team.
At the time of the Seattle meeting, the Oilers had less than 24 months left on their lease with Rexall Place. While Katz publicly apologized to Oiler fans after he has shredded on social media platforms, the threat is still there.
Seattle is very committed to getting a new arena, mostly for the Sonics of the NBA to come back, and will probably get one done. If Katz and the city of Edmonton come to some sort of agreement, it will keep the Oilers in Edmonton for the next 35 years and there wouldn’t be anymore Seattle talk.
The new Oilers arena plans are not only good for the team, but the city would get a big economic boost. The arena is hoped to be a catalyst for a revival of Edmonton’s downtown district. The arena could lead to new restaurants, shops, and office buildings being built nearby.
John Karvellas, the executive vice president of the Katz Group said about the possible revitalization plans,
“What’s at risk here is one of the most transformative projects this city has likely ever seen. It’s not just the arena, it’s all the development around it.”
The new arena could absolutely lead to big things for the city of Edmonton. It would lead to new businesses, which would mean new jobs and everyone can agree that job creation is great. However, taxpayers in Emdonton shouldn’t have to pay as much as it is projected, especially since the team owner has very deep pockets.
Downtown Edmonton business owners are very much in support of the new arena. Just last week, business owners and community leaders formed a coalition in support of the arena. The coalition says that this is not just about Daryl Katz and the Oilers, but rather it is about the city itself.
The Oilers are also one of the few NHL teams to receive very little non-hockey revenue, such as concession sales. A new arena would mean possibly setting up more concession stands. Also, Katz has said that he has been losing money every season since he bought the team and it’s mostly because of the team’s current venue situation. Katz has to realize that you need to spend money to make money.
If the young talent of the Oilers finally gel together, they could be a perennial playoff team. Which could only mean more money and nearby businesses sales would be going up as a result.
This is simply a great thing that could happen to the city of Edmonton. Keep the Oilers in a nice, new fancy home, job creation, and more money for both the city of Edmonton and the Oilers. All Katz has to do is pony up the $55 million, if all goes according to plan, he’ll get that money back anyway.
Mark Wallace Graham has been a writer for TheHockeyWriters.com since March 2013. Growing up in New England, Boston Bruins hockey was in my blood. Follow me on Twitter, @MarkWGraham