Bettman backs new Edmonton arena
DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
|NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in Edmonton Saturday for the Atlanta Thrashers and Edmonton Oilers game. During the second intermission, Bettman reiterated his desire to see a new downtown arena complex for the city. (Edmonton Sun file)
EDMONTON - Gary Bettman is not interested going through another campaign fighting to keep the Edmonton Oilers in town.
Therefore the NHL commissioner is hoping the club and the city come to an agreement as to who is going to foot the bill for a new arena.
It’s something he says is essential in keeping the hockey team in Edmonton.
“I don’t think there is any intention of this team to play in this building (Rexall Place) beyond the term of its lease,” Bettman said. “There needs to be a new building, and it’s that simple.
“I would find it difficult to believe that people would let it get to that point (team leaving). I’ve already engaged in one effort to save the Oilers in Edmonton, I really don’t want to go through a second one.
“This team needs a new building and this city needs a new building. I think everyone agrees on that, it’s just a question of getting it right.”
In town on his way to Calgary for Sunday’s Heritage Classic, Bettman stressed the importance of a new area not only for the hockey team, but the city.
The Oilers are looking to construct a new downtown arena, but are getting some resistance from the community about using tax dollars to fund it.
As one of the oldest buildings in the league, the Oilers have stated they will not play in Rexall Place following the expiration of their lease in 2014.
“It’s obviously essential that the Oilers have a new arena, it’s essential that the city of Edmonton have a new arena as well,” said Bettman. “This building is obviously out-dated, and for this city to continue to attract concerts, family shows, conventions, having a new state of-the-art arena is important.
“It’s equally important that the Edmonton Oilers have to have a new arena. There is no question about it, they’re not going to stay in this arena.”