Monday, October 01, 2007


A New Arena? Don't You Mean Saving Your Eternal Soul?

There's a consciousness-altering article on the proposed new arena for the Edmonton Oilers in today's Edmonton Journal. The writer, Susan Ruttan, notes:

"The question of a downtown arena seems to be flying under the radar this civic election, rarely raised by candidates or voters. Yet it's likely to be one of the biggest decisions facing a new city council."

Well said. Other than Mayor Stephen Mandel, I have yet to hear a candidate in this year's civic election (voting day is October 15th) speak to or come out on either side of this issue. And even Mandel has been quiet (you won't find a single word about the arena in his platform, for example), perhaps because polling has shown that the majority of Edmontonians a) don't want a new arena in the downtown core and b) really don't want to be asked to foot the bill for it. So, rather than stand behind the idea he instigated--as others, including I, have encouraged him to do--Mandel has chosen to let the issue lie, instead opting to put out a "feasibility report" in December, once the election is over and done with. Other candidates, it appears, are eager to follow that same route.

The other candidates might have acted differently, however, if they'd listened to Lyle Best. Best, as many already know, is the head of the mayor's "Arena Feasibility Committee." He's also a member of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Oilers Alumni Association (Pat Laforge and Cal Nichols are also members of the "feasibility committee," highlighting its lack of independence and objectivity). In the article, Best tries for an audacious misdirect, dropping doublespeak that is for the ages:

"A lot of people would say we don't need another arena," Best said in an interview. "But when you look at it, is there anything wrong with wanting an upgraded downtown core?"

Stop. Read that again. Still confused? No worries. I'll put it in terms you'll easily understand.

Lyle Best: Do not try to fight against spending on a new arena. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Edmontonian: What truth?
Lyle Best: There is no new arena.
Edmontonian: There is no new arena?
Lyle Best: Then you'll see, that it is not the EIG that spends, it is only yourself.

Got it? Good. You see, it's not really about building a new hockey arena for the Edmonton Oilers and the Edmonton Investors Group. No, even Best says that would be silly:

Best said building an arena just for itself -- as a new home for the Edmonton Oilers and for concerts -- is hard to justify economically. Neither Oilers games nor concerts produce a lot of profit for an arena, he said.

What this is really about, according to Best, is upgrading the downtown core. And who in their right mind could oppose that? Not I. Not you. No one, obviously, despite the fact that basically zero hard evidence exists to support the claim that a new arena will in fact do that. Despite the fact that the downtown core is already being "revitalized" through other projects, and that the space where the proposed arena will stand might be better suited to other purposes. Despite the fact that one only has to look at the area around the current stadium--Rexall Place--to become suspicious about the economic offshoots of a sporting facility. Despite all those things, Lyle Best wants Edmontonians to know that a new hockey arena doesn't actually serve best the interests of the Edmonton Investors Group. Remember, there is no arena. Instead, Best would like us to know that by erecting the non-arena, we are in fact growing our city. Rather than padding the pockets of millionaires, we are simply engaging in the practice of helping ourselves.



that would be effective "pulling-cloth-over-eyes" strategy
Let's put EIG logos on the jerseys instead for now.

I was wondering if you saw this Lyle Best interview the same way I did. I mean, spin is one thing, but one is rarely able to see as amateur and obvious spin as this.

My favorite part, though, is the parking question:
Parking lots around Rexall Place can hold 6,500 cars, and the LRT line carries about 3,000 people to Oilers games.

Where will people park at a downtown arena?

"That's a very critical point, and one I have to defend almost every day," Best said. "We already have a large and significant inventory of parking spots (downtown) that are not typically used after 5 o'clock."

Oilers tickets increasingly go to corporations, he added, and many businessmen will be able to walk to the game from their downtown offices.

There's a "significant" inventory. You want numbers? We don't have numbers. We haven't had a chance to collect them in the months we've been exploring the issue; we've been busy travelling North America. And those businessmen, they just magically appear downtown; surely they don't use any part of that significant inventory themselves.

Besides, once we have a 20k seat arena and we're able to drive up ticket prices yet again, the magical businessmen will be the only ones who can afford to go to the games anyway; you won't need to worry about parking then.


Good snag. I forgot the part about the businessmen going to the game. It would be great to put that question to Captain and Laforge:

"Cal, how do you feel about Lyle Best's assertion that the Oilers are moving away from their traditional season ticket base, and selling more and more tickets to corporations? Sorry, wait, before you run away from me here, one more question: are you comfortable with your arena becoming more and more like the Air Canada Centre?"

Sadly, I'm just a "wannabe Oilers general manager" from the blogosphere, and will never get to ask the tough questions, unlike David Staples.

It's astonishing how they keep re-packaging the same turd.

It's a load of garbage. If the idea is to revitalize the downtown area, then why have an "Arena Feasibility Committee"? Just put together a "Downtown Feasibility Committee" instead.

Fight it fellas. With the memory of MLG and the thousands of Leafs faithful, I'm sayin' fight it.

It's the Oilogosphere!

Andy, I'm free this week, how about you? Lets podcast this and the start of the season!

I have a pretty tight schedule of watching baseball, playing Halo 3 and writing a preview for the season planned, but I think I can squeeze you in.

What are you doing tonight?

This one is my favorite:
Best said Rexall hasn't been totally discarded as a site for a new arena. But he notes that no development has sprung up around Rexall, something he thinks will happen at a downtown site.

He's actually conceded that the current arena failed to revitalize it's neighbourhood, then claimed that the new arena would, based entirely on an opinion which runs contrary to the existing facts.

With hard data like that, how can we go wrong? I'm writing a cheque right now!

Howie 'The Weasel' Mandel wouldn't admit to being born if he thought it would cost him a vote. East Enders put his feet to the fire over his push to put 52 units of Habitat for Welfare Bum housing in Beverly. At a public forum, he was asked which way he'd vote on the proposal when it came before council. He ran out of the hall. The only thing I can't decide is whether he's a Giant Douche or a Turd Sandwich.

Nice poor-bashing Art. Gunning for that Giant Douche crown yourself?

No problem. Let's put those row houses in your neighborhood.
Thought so.

Art, I hope every hobo in Edmonton troops through your neighbourhood just to shit on your lawn.

Oh and it's interesting that the project has grown to 52 units now. Last time you trotted out your little NIMBY whine on BoA, there were only 48 units proposed. I expect next time it'll have morphed again into 400 corrugated metal shacks with free heroin for all.

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