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City Council has taken steps today to overcome the $100-million funding shortfall and finalize the downtown arena, to be owned by the City of Edmonton and operated by the Katz Group, owner of the Edmonton Oilers.
“It’s much closer today than it was yesterday,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel. “I really want to applaud the councillors that had the courage to do this.”
In an eight to five vote, councillors approved leveraging new infrastructure funding through provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative grants to pay for a $45-million loan. The grants will see $3-million per year directed to the project over a 20-year span. That funding mechanism is contingent upon the city securing the remaining $55-million from the province.
“We need to get this done from all sides,” said Mandel. “Our responsibility is to make sure we deal with our provincial partners in a way that creates some source of revenue for us to do this.”
Once the remaining funding has been allocated, council indicated it will be ready to sign the Master Agreement, clearing the way for the downtown arena development. Oilers President & COO Patrick LaForge felt council’s vote was a step in the right direction and is hopeful the city will successfully locate the funds in the near future.
“We’re really happy with the progress we made today,” said LaForge. “To a large extent, the whole project has been about steps and we look forward to the next round.”
With the exception of the $100-million shortfall, the framework for the $480-million arena that was agreed upon on January 23, 2013 appeared satisfactory to council, including shifting the infrastructure to the west to capitalize on a pedestrian corridor, reducing the LRT connection funded by the City from $17-million to $7-million and moving forward with a mutually funded Winter Garden.
Last week, MacEwan University also announced its partnership with the City to contribute $2-million to the development of the Community Rink in return for its use by the University’s hockey teams.