SUN Hockey Pool

Katz OK to go solo with new rink

JEFF CUMMINGS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET

EDMONTON - The owner of the Edmonton Oilers wants to move forward in building a new downtown arena -- even if it means there would be two hockey barns in the Alberta capital.

In a statement Friday, the Katz Group says it's encouraged by recent city council discussions about a new rink and entertainment complex in the heart of the city.

"The Katz Group welcomes the latest step in the process to work towards a new downtown arena and the entertainment district," Bob Black, executive vice-president of the Katz Group's sports and entertainment division, said in the statement.

"We look forward to continuing to work with city administration to move the process further forward."

The group is pushing for a new Edmonton Oilers arena that's expected to cost between $400 million and $500 million.

The Katz Group pledged $100 million in July toward developing an entertainment district surrounding the arena -- an investment of top of the $100 million Katz had already committed to the project.

Council is expected to talk about the issue again on Jan. 17.

A public hearing for the Katz Group's rezoning application is scheduled for the next day.

Councillors Jane Batty and Linda Sloan said Northlands, which operates Rexall Place, should be part of the discussions.

"We need to move along with Northlands all the way through," said Batty.

Northlands president Richard Andersen said Rexall is still on par with other NHL rinks.

The Oilers have said the team will no longer play at the rink when its 10-year lease expires in 2014.

A downtown rink is needed to ensure the Oilers are sustainable in the city, the Katz Group argues.

The group said the Oilers have been "in the red" throughout most of the last decade with Katz spending millions of his own money for the team to break even.


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