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Councillor speaks out against Bettman comments
Jessica Earle, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Sunday, February 20, 2011 6:05PM MST
At least one local politician believes statements made by the NHL commissioner on Saturday ‘undermine' ongoing negotiations between city officials and the Katz Group to build a new downtown arena.
Gary Bettman told the media Rexall Place is "antiquated and outdated" and said no teams would be playing there after 2014 because the venue does not meet NHL standards.
"The Oilers has to have a new arena, there is no question about it. They are not going to stay in this building," he said, before hinting Edmonton risks losing the team if a new arena isn't built.
"I've already engaged in one effort to save the Oilers in Edmonton. I really don't want to have to go through a second one."
While Bettman said his comments were not a threat, Councillor Amarjeet Sohi sees them as an ultimatum and an attempt to influence negotiations.
"'Either you build the arena or we are going to leave.' - I think that is totally inappropriate," he said on Sunday. "What he stated I think undermines the good will and undermines the negotiations that are going on now."
A highly-anticipated report is due to city council on March 2nd, which will map out how the Katz Group's proposal can be built without saddling taxpayers with debt. The document will also assess the risks and benefits of putting public money into the project.
Fans CTV spoke to say they don't buy the argument the Oilers would relocate if a new venue isn't built within the next three years.
"It would be a really sad mistake for them to move the Oilers," said Stephen Metcalfe.
Cara Agar agrees.
"Whatever Gary Bettman says, it's not true. Keep it in the city, old arena, new arena, keep the team."
With Files from Kevin Armstrong
Gary Bettman, seen on the left, is getting some tough criticism from councillor Amarjeet Sohi, seen on the right.