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Councillors not optimistic for next week’s arena update
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Thursday, December 6, 2012 4:41PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 7:05PM MST
Days before city council has been scheduled to hear an update on the status of the downtown arena project, CTV News spoke with some members of city council – who aren’t optimistic a plan will be laid out before the New Year.
It appears not much has changed since councillors voted to end negotiations with Oilers owner the Katz Group in October.
On December 12, councillors will hear a verbal update from city administration on the status of the project – and it’s not clear what is expected to come of it.
“The directions we gave them was to come back at some point and give us one, two, five, ten, a hundred options,” Councillor Tony Caterina said. “Whatever they happen to come up with, and see what we need to do to move forward.”
Caterina said one possible option could be for the city to build the arena on its own.
“We’re pretty well paying for the entire thing anyway, and financing it for the next 30 years, so it wouldn’t really be much different than if we did it ourselves.”
If that turns out to be an option, Mayor Stephen Mandel said some cost saving measures would have to be looked at.
“Some of the obvious things council asked about was the bridge across 104 Avenue, which is way too expensive,” Mandel said. “What can they do with that, are there any opportunities to reduce the cost of it.”
Mandel said another option could be for officials to start from the beginning.
“If they came back in January with a different design to bring forward their cost analysis of what revenue could be generated for an operator of the arena, I think that’s important too.”
Meanwhile, the Oilers lease at Rexall Place is set to expire in 2014 – Caterina said Northlands and the Katz Group have been working on an extension for their lease.
“There has to be an extension, we can’t get this thing built for 2014,” Caterina said.
CTV News tried to reach the Katz Group for comment, but they had nothing new to say.
With files from Ashley Molnar