New Oilers arena still $100 million short
MICHELLE THOMPSON, QMI Agency
|Artist's conception of a new arena in downtown Edmonton. (Supplied)
EDMONTON - The $100-million dollar question continues to linger after the Katz Group and city struck a deal to build a downtown Edmonton arena.
Funding for most the $450-million project will be covered through a $100-million contribution from Oilers owner Daryl Katz, coupled with $125 million from the city, and another $125 million from a user-paid facility fee.
But that still leaves the scheme $100 million short.
The province is keeping tight-lipped about its possible role and says it's waiting on a formal request before making a decision.
“Right now, we're neither here nor there,” said infrastructure ministry spokeswoman Tracy Larsen.
“Nothing's changing until we get the request.”
This came as Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason warned the province against funding the arena.
"This is an inappropriate use of taxpayers money,” Mason said.
“Especially so much money."
There's better ways for the province to spend the cash, Mason said.
“I think it has to be stacked up against other priorities,” he said.
“They couldn't find $100 million to help school boards maintain their staffing levels, they couldn't find $100 million to reduce wait times for cancer surgery.
“Until we can resolve those basic things, I don't think we should be funding private billionaires for their for profit operations."
Federal Minister of Public Works Rona Ambrose has staunchly opposed spending tax dollars on a private arena.
Ambrose was not available for comment Thursday, but a spokeswoman said her position has not changed.
“The government has no program to fund professional sports facilities,” said Michelle Bakos.
“Any requests for funding for the redevelopment or revitalization of the city's downtown must meet the criteria of infrastructure through the programs and agreements that are in place.”