Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Taxpayers To Buy Oilers An Arena

So I guess we've gone from thinking about a rink, to talking about a rink, to getting a rink. Of course, no one has actually debated whether we really need a new NHL arena in the city of Edmonton. But why should we, right? As Jerry Bouma, president of Northlands and member of Mayor Stephen Mandel's new Gouge The Taxpayers of Alberta to Please Rich People Committee "Arena Feasibility Committee" stated today, he's behind building a new arena because "the Oilers have already said they need a new arena." Wow. Are you that easy to convince, Jerry? Well, I need someone to pay for my eventual wedding, buy me a new car, and build me a house. It would be great if you could pay for that stuff for me, Jerry. No? What if I said I really needed it, and that I was going to leave town if you didn't give me what I wanted? Would that help? Yes? Awesome.

As the link above notes, the "Arena Feasibility Committee" has been chosen by Stephen Mandel. Mayor Mandel is staying off the committee, because he is partial to a downtown site, and doesn't want to bias anything. Such an ethical guy. Instead, he's made Lyle Best--Member of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Oilers Alumni Association, amongst other Oilers entanglements-- the head of the committee. In case that wasn't impartial enough, Mayor Mandel has placed Cal Nichols and Pat Laforge on the committee, too.

Remember back in November, when the trial balloon for the EIG was first floated by Paula Simons? In that article, Simons said that Cal Nichols wanted "a thorough public discussion about any new arena, one that takes into account the interests of all of Edmonton." At the time, Nichols said, "this is bigger than the Oilers. It's about the entire community and its needs. We have to do, not what's right for the Oilers or Northlands or the downtown, but for the city." Fast forward to today, and ask yourself the question: has there really been a public discussion about this issue? I'm going to suggest that there hasn't, other than maybe on this site. Everywhere else, including the Edmonton Journal (which should be ashamed of itself), legitimate concerns around building a new arena have been glossed over, replaced with assumptions and generalizations. There have been zero discussions on how a new arena will revitilize the downtown core, considering no revitilization has occured around the existing site at Northlands. In fact, there hasn't even been a discussion on why we should even be concerned with "revitilizing" the downtown core in the first place. There have been zero discussions around major reports from the United States, which suggest that the economic impact of new stadiums to a city are grossly inflated. There have been zero discussions on how the downtown area will handle the incoming vehicle congestion, or other urban planning and environmental concerns. And lastly, there have been zero discussions on why taxpayers are to be responsible for the cost of a new arena, when there is absolutely nothing wrong with the old arena other than the fact that the owners of the Edmonton Oilers aren't making enough money for themselves off it it.

Instead, the Mayor has appointed a bunch of like-minded individuals to push through his plans for a new arena. Bouma hasn't been on the committee a day, and he's already supporting a new rink. The others will do the same. There are no outsiders on the committee, and a difference of opinion is therefore unlikely. The word "feasibility" has a whole new meaning now. This committee will not explore whether the city of Edmonton needs a new NHL arena. That has already been decided by the Mayor, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Edmonton Journal (the province of Alberta's continued silence on this issue is interesting in its own right). This committee will explore where the new stadium will be built, and how much we as taxpayers will have to pay for it. Conveniently, the committee will not publish a report until November or early December, after civic elections. In a cowardly act, Mayor Stephen Mandel won't even submit himself to the fate of the ballot box on this issue. He'll wait until afterwards to show citizens their bill.

I have another post on this issue to come tonight. And yes, I'm still posting on this issue. It was my plan all along. Worst. Retirement. Ever. I know.




Just think of yourself as a Blogger Emeritus. You're retired, but you can still show up and post from time to time, especially in the absence of a new Blogger for the Oilers.

- Mustafa Hirji

Perfect, Mustafa. I like that. Oilogger Emeritus it is.

Wow, that is a really fucking shady article by Farrell. Instead of pointing out Lyle Best's deep ties with the Oilers organization, they describe him generically as a "businessman and community activist".

This is beyond sloppy journalism. This is corporate propaganda.


It's like the Springfield Mono-rail episode in real life.

We already have the LRT Lowetide :)But I look forward to the public meeting where we're won over by a catching musical number done by Phil Hartman back from the dead.

My personal favourite argument in favour of a new arena is that the washroom facilities aren't adequate in Rexall and people are having to wait too long to go to the bathroom.

This argument of course assumes bladders are much smaller than they used to be and people urinate much more often than they did 15 years ago.

I blame our "red hot" economy on the growth in per capita urination.

Scott, has there been any attempt by the Edmonton Journal or the Edmonton Sun to contact you, or anyone else in your office, on this issue?

Well at least our new building will be better than those guys down in North Haverbrook;)

It's not like any of my money will be wasted/spent in this venture, but what I'm waiting for is how far the Oil will be under the cap even when there are absolute scads of money pouring in.

Take this for what it is, just observation from someone who has seen it before.

In Denver, Colorado, Coors Field was a new stadium built for the Colorado Rockies (the current baseball team). The area around it was certainly revitalized, into bars, drunk idiots, overpriced real estate (which is crashing quite nicely, thank you), and horrible traffic. While the area was nothing to look at before, the economic advantages are serving only one small segment of the population, the party people.

Then, the Pepsi Center replaced McNichols Arena, which is privately owned, but on city property (wha???). Frankly, they needed a new arena, as McNichols wasn't long for this earth. Pepsi Center is a very decent arena, but hasn't done much for the economy that the old place didn't do already. Maybe, with light rail nearby, there are less incidents of drunk driving, but the parking lots are still full, and traffic is a mess. Downtown looks a little prettier, but that's about it.

I have no numbers to back up anything, and that is why I made no real claims. Just observations.

Something to note about baseball fields:

- more seating (on the order of 80,000ish to a hockey arena which is 20,000ish

- more games

- more daytime activity

- slower games

I can totally see how a baseball field might have more of an impact than a hockey arena because it will bring more people into the area (#1 and #2) and possibly (I have less confidence in this part) bring them during times (#3) and in a context (#4) where they're more likely to pop out to buy something, or go for dinner afterwards.

Of course, #1 and #2 imply vastly more transportation headaches too.

- Mustafa Hirji

Well, the thing, Mustafa, is we are talking about the impact of a baseball stadium in America, versus the impact of a hockey arena in Canada, which could sell out NHL games any day of the week. And while the Pepsi Center is a hockey arena, they also have basketball (popular here), lacrosse (very popular), concerts, and more, and they are working year round. So Le Can is still valid in the arguement, and baseball isn't as popular here as it is in places like New York and Boston.

Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

Yes Andy the Sun and Metro News yesterday.


Hopefully I didn't screw up the HTML there...

Oh and Andy, don't be surprised if I liberally steal some of your lines, they are gold!

I'm also going to start referring reporters to this site. By far the best commentary on the arena issue has been right here.

Of course I did screw up the HTML.


Hopefully this works. I wish you could view your comments before they were published...


Wow. I've never seen so many assumptions made on a single webpage before. You have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. Try getting facts before you start spouting off.

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