I’m not the only one talking about this matter this morning, but let me be the most blunt.
Daryl Katz must have balls bigger than his ridiculous hair cut to be running his current extortion game on two fronts. As has been reported everywhere else, the owner of the Edmonton Oilers has set a deadline of October 17 for the city to agree to a deal in which Edmonton tax payers would pony upwards of $300 Million for construction of a new arena, plus $6M per year to help offset the cost of running the building, and $20M over 10 years for advertising among other conditions. If the Oilers’ owner can’t get a deal in place – he is threatening to move the team to Seattle, where that City’s council has approved the construction of a $490M dollar downtown arena with hopes that it would house both NHL and NBA franchises.
The idea of moving the Edmonton Oilers from an historical perspective is preposterous. I’m not going to even dignify that with analysis.
What is truly remarkable about this move however, is the fact that Katz and his owner-colleagues are currently in the midst of locking out their players on the charge that they do not make enough of the $3.3B that the league currently takes in each season. According to Forbes (which is not necessarily an authoritative source –http://www.forbes.com/nhl-valuations/#p_2_s_a0_ ) Katz’ club made $96M last season which translates into $17.3M in revenue after operating costs. Certainly that isn’t Toronto Maple Leafs cash – but the team is worth $212M and is sold out every single night. The Oilers are fine. Yes a bigger arena would help.. But therein lies the rub.
Katz want’s the arena built with as little of his money as possible. He claims he’s not making enough money from the team as a result of the arena, and as such the Oilers need to move. It takes a giant leap however, to suggest that a city filled with plumbers, teachers and office workers should bank-roll the construction with increased taxes to subsidize the earnings of a billionaire. Owning an NHL Club is a license to print money. If you’re not earning enough – its time to get creative. And while it is generally accepted that the Rexall Centre is outdated as an NHL rink, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the City should jump at the opportunity to build a new building for an owner who refers to his Canadian team as existing in a “small market”.
You own the Edmonton Oilers you jackass!
You’ve been torturing the city for years with a terrible product with the promise of high draft picks turning around the franchise. You are on the verge of having one of the best teams in the league – and you choose now, in the midst of a lockout which is alienating the dedicated who pay their hard-earned money purchasing tickets to your games, to start giving ultimatums to the City? The Giantest of middle fingers.
Katz is the embodiment of privileged NHL owners who will hold fans and players hostage to ensure that no matter what conditions they have willingly entered through the purchase of a franchise – they will make money. How is it that the richest among us always have the greatest support from taxpayer coffers? If I start a lawn-mowing company – can I ask my city to buy me a warehouse, trucks, and equipment? The notion is preposterous, and yet, this is what we see time and time again in professional sports from the Pheonix Coyotes, to the Miami Marlins to the Edmonton Oilers. I’m sick of hearing how we can’t find money for hospitals or education – and yet always find a way to bankroll the sports-related projects of the richest among us.
Katz is the 16th richest person in this country. Think about that… In a nation of 35 Million people, there are only 15 with more money than he has. He owns Pharma Plus and Rexall among others. This man’s house is worth over $20M. He is so wealthy that he bought the house next door to his in order to demolish it and replace it with a hockey rink for his kids. This man wants people like you and me to build him an arena so that he can make more money.
The very idea is disgusting.
My hope is that the City tells Katz to stick it. There will always be someone willing to own a franchise in Edmonton. If he wants to play a game of chicken – now is the time for the City to say – we are not your financiers.