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Edmonton's New Arena Faces New Delays, Cost Concerns

By Jim Flannery -- September 20, 2012 11:15 AM EDT

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According to a Sept. 18 piece from the Edmonton Journal, the proposed new downtown arena for the Edmonton Oilers remains in limbo.

Negotiations between the City of Edmonton and the Katz Group, owners of the Oilers, have become stalled while hammering out the final 17 points of the deal that was agreed to in principle in the fall of 2011.

With Rexall Place as one of the oldest rinks in the NHL, the city and the team feel it is time to retire the aging building and upgrade to a cutting edge new home, with the added benefit that the new place will be in the heart of town, whereas Rexall is well away from most everything.

The good news is that there are still a few months to come to an agreement. A 60 per cent schematic of the building is needed before final costs can be accurately determined and those plans aren't expected to be available until the new year.

The bad news is that pricing for the mega-complex, currently expected to come in around $450-$475 million, is only one of the 17 items on the bargaining list.

There are also discussions and concerns regarding a pedway on the north side of the building, connecting to the city's Light Rail Transit system. And another major sticking point is an annual $6 million operating subsidy requested by the Katz Group. Over the life of the facility, this could add up to a major price tag for the City.

Interestingly, down the road in Calgary, the Flames are also looking into building a new stadium of their own. With their lease at the Scotiabank Saddledome expiring in 2014, the team thinks this might be the right time to build a new place.

The deal that is eventually struck between Edmonton and the Oilers will very likely have a significant impact on any proposals the Flames organization bring to the City of Calgary, including cost sharing, location and design issues, as local precedents will have been set.

In a province where rivalries between the two cities frequently reach the boiling point, the Flames will be aiming to at least match the deal the Oilers make for their new arena. More likely, they'll be seeking to one-up their foes to the north.

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