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Councillors argue they need more time to make a decision on arena
Published Friday, March 25, 2011 4:31PM MDT
The majority of councillors insist they need more time to make a decision on the proposed arena project. The mayor maintains councillors need to come to a decision on the project by the time they meet on April 6th.
Emotions are running at city hall as the meeting date draws closer. A majority of councillors told CTV News they won't approve the project until they know who is responsible for cost overruns.
"I feel cornered," said Coun. Ed Gibbons.
Councillors say they still have concerns about who is responsible to pay if the project goes over the anticipated $450-million budget.
"I don't think you can build an arena unless you have $850 million out there," said Gibbons.
The mayor has said he wants council to decide whether or not to move forward with the proposed project, to allow negotiations to move ahead without as many obstacles.
A sports economist hired by Northlands thinks private developers should pay for overruns, and he's offering this advice to council:
"Once it's approved at the Spartan level, they start to say, 'oh we'd like to have this next to the locker room' and we'd like these bells and whistles. You've got to be deliberate, you've got to be cautious and you've got to be strong in bargaining in a deal that's good for the City of Edmonton," said Dr. Andrew Zimbalist.
The mayor believes if the city manages construction, officials can ensure the project stays on budget.
"We need to have a very tight budget and make sure that there's enough contigency that the cost overruns...there will be enough of a contingency that that's not a practical term," said Stephen Mandel.
Some councillors still aren't convinced a decision will be made as soon as the mayor would like.
"I can't see this coming to a vote on the 6th at all," said Coun. Bryan Anderson.
But others suggest a deal could be reached sooner than some think.
"I do think it's reasonable to make a decision in the back end of April or May," said Coun. Kim Krushell.
With files from Jessica Earle
An artist's rendering showing the arena foyer of the proposed arena district in downtown Edmonton. Supplied by The Katz Group.