If you haven’t already heard, Edmonton City Council has unanimously voted in favour of ceasing all negotiations with the Katz Group over the arena deal, the basic framework of such that they had approved previously, even though the funding model was still well short of covering the costs & reliant on the provincial government chipping in to cover. The provincial government still has yet to commit any funds to the deal, and given negotiations between the city and Katz Group now dead in the water for the time being, it’s hard to imagine the province committing to a dead deal.
Now, when you’ve got Mandel saying these sorts of things, you know you’ve blown it.
This is the ultimate follow up to a series of PR blunders from Daryl Katz, starting with coming back to an agreed upon deal and asking for an operating subsidy to offset his costs, which didn’t sit well with most of the city council and whom weren’t ready to agree to such terms. Then came the infamous trip to Seattle, followed up with an angry letter and refusal to come and appear before City Council today to state his case.
Now the deal, at least for the short-term, is kaput. Katz has gone from having a deal in which he had to put up very little up front, paying most of his contributions over the years, to nothing, and perhaps worse for him, it now appears he’s lost confidence and trust of even some of the most pro-arena members of the City Council.
So ultimately, what does this mean? In the long term, probably not a whole lot, an arena will still get built even if this delays it a few more years, and Katz’ reputation and good will shown to him from the citizens of Edmonton might never return to the level it was at before this fiasco started.
When Katz issued his letter of apology, I said I could care less about apologies and more about negotiating in good faith. Refusal to show up before council and sternly written letters aren’t good faith. For that matter, neither are moving to axe portions of an area deal in spite of an absent ‘partner’.
The time for letters and spite is over; there are two facts that have unchanged throughout this process, and will not change any time soon. Daryl Katz owns the Oilers & the Oilers play in the City of Edmonton. It’s time for both parties to stop negotiating through the media, sit down, and work on a deal that is good for both the Oilers and the City of Edmonton.