Friday, December 14, 2007

 

Great, bouncing icebergs!

Here's a round-up of coverage on the proposed sale of the Edmonton Oilers. I'll just keep adding stories as I come across them.

Edmonton Journal
"Katz closes in on Oilers" (John MacKinnon)
"Downtown arena closer to reality" (Susan Ruttan and Jim Farrell)
"For Lowe, players, it's business as usual -- for now" (Joanne Ireland)
"A bright future for Oilers hockey" (Journal Editorial)
"Cal Nichols and the EIG — Just passing through" (John MacKinnon)
"How Citizen Cal Nichols saved NHL hockey in Edmonton" (David Staples)

Edmonton Sun
"Cal is convinced" (Terry Jones)
"All about the arena" (Terry Jones)
"All eyes on billionaire's bid" (Frank Landry)
"Moreau thinks new boss would be same as old boss" (Robert Tychkowski)
"Fans like Katz offer under one condition" (Renato Gandia)
"Daryl has his ducks in a row" (Graham Hicks)

Globe & Mail
"The Katz comes back with a richer offer for Edmonton" (Allan Maki)
"Pharmacy tycoon makes new bid for Oilers" (Eric Duhatschek)

National Post
"Friday Faceoff: Mitchell, Marsh and the Oilers billionaire" (Mark Spector and Bruce Arthur)

Canadian Press
"Rexall billionaire launches another bid to buy Oilers from community group"

Vancouver Sun
"Latest offer has Oilers listening" (Mark Spector)

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Comments:

I've only read Terry Jones so far and it's obvious he hates Katz for some unknown reason.

Just see the words he uses to describe him.

And the Journal headline? "Katz closes in"

You know what else closes in? Sharks. What else? NAZIs!
 


"As far as I know, there is no such arena that's ever been built anywhere in North America without having significant tax dollars going to it."

Interesting comment from Councillor Kim Krushell in this story. I'm fairly certain she is incorrect, though. Auburn Hills in Detroit, the Verizon Centre in Washington, AT&T Park in San Francisco, and the Nationwide Arena in Columbus were all built with private funds. The Columbus example is interesting, since advocates of a downtown site keep using it as an example of urban renewal. There was actually a referendum on whether tax dollars should be used in building it--and the threat of not getting an NHL franchise was lobbed about--and taxpayers rejected it.
 


In today's Journal, the exec director of our downtown business association is quoted as saying, '"It's not just a sheet of ice but it's a community arena complex."

Thankfully for all, our Mayor is on the scene to calm things down.

Anyone remember comedian Robert Klein and his routine about his Germanic school teacher who admonishes her class with 'No talking!!'?

It seems that Mayor Mandel is doing the same thing with his dispassionately authoritative response to yesterday's sale announcement, essentially lecturing us that no speculation is allowed. Not until the arena committee comes back with its solemn findings. Because you know, this is not some rinky-dink private 2007 World-Arena-Tour committee.

Andy, if you ever consider adding an entry to your 07-08 glossary for the Mayor and his deliberations on the new arena, my vote would be for Professor Almondhead.
 


Yes, the "refuse to speculate talk" from the Mayor is bogus. This Jones article basically says that the EIG has already been told a) they'll have to pony up, and b) that the public will be asked to contribute:

A) "It's also about the Investors Group doing some due diligence and discovering that the Oilers were going to be required to put up more money for an arena than they put up to save the team in the first place.

"We discovered that the Oilers' contribution would be significant and that to raise the money would take out about half the shareholders," he said. "It would involve a cash call or taking on a lot more debt.""


B) Buy a hockey team for the fair price of $185 million but get a $450 million arena for $100 million? Steal of a deal.


No shit, steal of a deal. Everyone else but the citizens of this city seem to be in on what's going on. Yet the Mayor doesn't want to tell the people of Edmonton about it? He doesn't want us speculating? It's a complete lack of transparency, and another example of his smug, arrogant attitude. It's a real shame no councillors or journalists are calling him out on this stuff.
 


And don't even get me started on Jim Taylor's, '"It's not just a sheet of ice but it's a community arena complex" statement.
 


So now you're against community, Andy?

Shame.

:)

Did you catch Lowe's comment - to paraphrase - "my interest in a new arena is not as a GM or Oiler etc but as a resident of Edmonton"

In a similar vein when I drink it is not for the buzz, the taste, the release of tension and so on but out of concern for the Canadian economy. I'm just doing my rock and roll duty.
 


Did you catch Lowe's comment - to paraphrase - "my interest in a new arena is not as a GM or Oiler etc but as a resident of Edmonton"

Sure, just like Cal Nichols didn't sell the team this summer because his concern was the best interests of Edmonton. It's a load of garbage. Like the only way the downtown gets revitalized is with an arena. Hogwash. They still haven't provided a single shred of hard evidence to prove their point about economic impact.

Okay, I have to stop. Breathe, Andy...
 


In a recent interview in Salon, David Nylund makes the point that, when it comes to the local teams, sports fans (unwisely) suspend an otherwise unshakable belief in the efficiency and rationality of free markets. It's remarkable, and the EIG and Mandel, rightly unconcerned that the non-Oilogosphere media will call them out on it, really play directly to this.

Here's the link: http://salon.com/sports/col/kaufman/2007/12/12/wednesday/index1.html
 


Using Terry Jones quotes to support your position? From a clearly anti-Katz article? Even though I agree with much of what you're driving at Andy, quote Jones hurts your credibility.

Jones bleeds EIG through and through, as today's puffery makes clear. To Jones, the EIG is "a group of the all-time greatest guys in Edmonton history." Yeah, they did a good thing keeping the team here a decade ago and they deserve our thanks. I do appreciate it. Greatest guys in Edmonton history though? That's galling. Don't forget the EIG were pretty much guaranteed all along--short of the NHL dropping to fewer teams--that they'd get a return on their investment. On the other hand, season ticket holders during that time don't get enough credit. The team wasn't always the greatest to watch, but the rink was full. That's what kept the team here.

Meanwhile Jones had no problem characterizing Katz as "flim-flam", and his offers as "hostile takeovers." The only time "allegedly" found it's way into Jones version of events was in reference to the size of Katz' wallet.

To top it off, the thrust of his article is based on a mis-quote. Jones quoted Nichols as saying:
"It's all about the arena downtown. He didn't want to go there unless he owned the arena."
Simple quote, but Jones got it completely backwards. The real quote is that Katz didn't want to be involved in the arena or downtown development if he didn't own the team. Cal conceded he'd approach it the same way if he was in Katz' position.

Jones paints a picture of Katz focused on the downtown arena and development, with ownership of the team merely an after though. Fits nicely with Jones' summer slams equating Katz' interest in the Oilers to bored rich guys and their toys. Thing is, it makes no sense. If it was all about the arena for Katz as Jones alludes, why worry about making all these offers for the Oilers? Why didn't Katz just build the arena if that's all he was concerned with. Oh right, Katz' main point is that he wants the team. The arena too...but not without the team.

There is truth in the "steal of a deal" angle on the arena aspect alone. Don't suppose Jones would have raised an eyebrow though if the EIG were on the receiving end of that steal.

Just saying there's better ways to make the argument than quoting a jilted Jones.
 


As counter point, here's an excerpt from MacKinnon today:
"He made it clear that he simply did not want to go there unless he owned the hockey team," Nichols said. "And I guess if I was in a position to do so, that would be the way that I would approach it."

Katz has been by far the Oilers largest corporate sponsor, as well as a key contributor to numerous significant Edmonton projects. In November 2003, the Katz Group signed a 10-year, naming-rights deal -- believed to be worth $20 million -- on the Oilers' current home. He made a major, last-minute contribution last summer to underwrite the Edmonton Grand Prix motor race, part of the Champ Car circuit.

When the Oilers' recent Cash is King lottery, raising money for an inner-city school, struggled to break even, Katz wrote a large cheque to ensure it would not lose money.

The 46-year-old, who lives in a mansion built for him recently, overlooking the North Saskatchewan River, donated $7 million to the U of A's Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research, an amount matched by the provincial government.


1. Gets the quote right.
2. Shows examples of Katz giving back to the city. Not just token amounts either.

Yep, that's flim-flam if I've ever seen it. From Jones that is.
 


Hey, here's one for you guys: Katz pledged $100 million towards a new downtown arena? Isn't the proposed "entertainment complex thingy" supposed to cost, like, a billion dollars?

(That's a billion real dollars, not a billion Belfour dollars.)

Which means that, theoretically, taxpayers will still be on the hook for $900 million. So I'm looking forward to the Crucifiction of the Katz when he actually has this team.

(Still, probably an improvement over the EIG wanting it for free.)
 


Using Terry Jones quotes to support your position? From a clearly anti-Katz article? Even though I agree with much of what you're driving at Andy, quote Jones hurts your credibility.

I wasn't using him to support my position. You misread me, Rod. It's the exact opposite. The exact opposite. I saw the Nichols conference yesterday. He said they were going to be asked to pay for some of the arena, and he didn't want to do it. That tells me these conversations are going on behind closed doors, which I have a huge problem with. And I don't care whether it's the EIG or Kataz. I don't want either getting a "steal of a deal" on an arena.
 


Which means that, theoretically, taxpayers will still be on the hook for $900 million. So I'm looking forward to the Crucifiction of the Katz when he actually has this team.

I have no problem doing so. I think I've been pretty clear on where I stand on this issue. But thanks for pulling a McLea by hiring yourself to be the BoA watchdog.
 


Oh, and Rod, I agree: the line about the EIG being "a group of the all-time greatest guys in Edmonton history" is waaaaay over the top. Tells you everything there is to know about Terry Jones and his reporting.
 


I have no problem doing so. I think I've been pretty clear on where I stand on this issue. But thanks for pulling a McLea by hiring yourself to be the BoA watchdog.

The benefits are great, lots of vacation time, and there are good work conditions. Doesn't pay so well, but, then, there's no such thing as the perfect job.

I made my point more glibly than, perhaps, I should have. My point is that people, as a whole, are really caught up in new owner mania and aren't looking past what's there on the surface. This isn't just "lol andy haetz eig".

Yes, by every account Katz is a good guy, a philantrophist, an Edmontonian, an Oilers fan, a multigazillionaire, and all that's right in the world. But he's also a businessman, and there's no reason not to believe he's going to act like a businessman. For instance, if he were interested in hugs-and-kisses-for-all ownership, he'd just pay for the arena himself rather than $100 million of it. Why $100 million? Because the City is clearly reluctant to pick up the tab for an entire arena, and tossing out a nine-digit number might get things in motion.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that a change in ownership is a good thing. At the very least, the fact that so many owners have been enthusiastic to sell means that we'll be replacing apathy with enthusiasm, and that's always a good thing. But let's not lose our perspective here.
 


And I don't care whether it's the EIG or Kataz. I don't want either getting a "steal of a deal" on an arena.

Agreed. Might not have made that clear, but I agree that we have to be vigilant over taxpayer involvement.

That said, I'm not necessarily in the camp that says tax funding has to be absolutely zero. For example, the Oilers team value increases with the new arena...why can't the taxpayer's get a piece of the team such that whenever Katz sells, the taxpayers get a return.

Also, a loan guarantee is different than just dumping money into construction. The money should be coming back into public coffers...in theory.

Additionally, public money could open the door to creating a caveat on any future deal (similar to the caveat the ATB had on Pocklington). For Puck, once the ATB received an offer to buy the team, a 90 day window started ticking (was it 90 days?...can't recall for sure). Local buyers had that window to purchase the team at a set price.

I'm sure there's way more ideas to be found than my attempts at scratching the surface. Point is, get creative. Easiest thing is to just say "no", or that zero taxpayer involvement is the only way. Zero would be great of course, but it might not be the only feasible path.

Let's me make one thing clear. I don't really see an arena / shopping / hotel / restaurant complex as something that would revitalize downtown. Doubtful on that selling point to say the least.

Bottom line, keeping tax payer involvement to a minimum is essential, and zero would be great. I am prepared to hear some non-zero proposals though...and shoot 'em down if necessary. ;)
 


An arena will be built. Whoever owns the Oilers at the time may or may not pony up a portion of the cost. But it's a dead certainty that taxpayers will be left holding most of the bill.

I challenge Mayor Howie Mandel to publish a list of every donor to his re-election campaign. Or maybe the MSM could spend some time on it.
 


LB and Rod,

I agree with both of you. My biggest concern Rod, is the lack of hard data on this stuff. When I see Kevin Lowe and Ethan Moreau mouthing off platitudes about how great a new arena will be for the downtown, I lose my mind. Where's the hard evidence? Same goes for Mandel saying it's up to the owners, not politicians, when he's been mouthing off on it for months and has his own damn committee looking at things. Where is that feasability committee listed on the City of Edmonton's webpage, by the way? Where are the minutes? The budget? And on and on and on...
 


Good job, guys. Now I'm just mad. No schedule time for meetings. No minutes. No budget. No orders by which the meetings will be governed. Yet it exists, and is spending money flying committee members to other NHL cities. Who is paying, what is being said, and how is it that not a single journalist in this city has looked into it?
 


Because they're in the same pocket of the hockey organization that the "committee" is.

BTW - Is it me or are the word verification codes getting so difficult to read that a few game-time beers might be enough to lock you out from the BOA comment section?
 


Out here in the Socialist paradise of Vancouver, GM place was built with private money, and the taxpayers were spared the expense (but unfortunately not the constant poor-crying of the McCaw ownership regime). Hold fast Edmontonians: don't let the Jonses and the rest of the 'all time greatest guys in Edmonton history' saddle you with debt to line the pockets of the robber-baron rich!

By the way Andy: EIG="all time greates guys in edmonton history" has just got to go into the glossary.
 


Andy: Heard tonight on Global that the committee's report on the arena is due mid-January. Mark your calendar... ;)
 


EIG="all time greates guys in edmonton history" has just got to go into the glossary.

Well said.
 


Did you catch Lowe's comment - to paraphrase - "my interest in a new arena is not as a GM or Oiler etc but as a resident of Edmonton"

Yeah I saw that. 2 minutes earlier, I saw Ethan Moreau advocating that Katz has the deep pockets to finance a downtown arena, and that Edmonton could use one to revitalize Edmonton's downtown core.

He's become a PR puppet, that Ethan Moreau.
 


Socialist Vancouver may never have had to pony up for GM Place, but we're certainly paying for it's use, and having to pony up for the ridiculous olympics!

In the end, Edmonton still wins.

As they should.

Because the canucks suck.
 


This comment has been removed by the author.
 


Anon: I challenge Mayor Howie Mandel to publish a list of every donor to his re-election campaign. Or maybe the MSM could spend some time on it.

By law he has to disclose his donors by Jan 31, 2008.

But to whet your appetite, here's his 2004 donors:
http://www.taxpayer.com/pdf/mandel04.pdf
(last deleted comment is mine... can't figure out how do put up links)
 


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