If I was an Edmonton taxpayer, this would send chills down my spine:
The owner of the Edmonton Oilers wasn’t blackmailing the city when he told councillors that the team won’t play at Rexall Place past 2014, Mayor Stephen Mandel said Thursday.
Billionaire businessman Daryl Katz was just expressing a financial reality, Mandel said, amid heated discussions about whether to build a new downtown arena for the National Hockey League franchise.
“I didn’t take it as a threat. I took it as a reality check of the problems NHL owners face in small markets,” Mandel said.
Small markets? Small markets?!?!? Here’s Pat LaForge 21 months ago:
“Revenue sharing, at the time you write the cheque, is painful — and we’ve written some big ones in the last two, three years,” said Oilers president Pat LaForge. “I see it as a compliment to our business. We’ve come from the red to being in the black and we need to look at it as a point of pride. The CBA has been good for us, the [Canadian] dollar has been good to us, the fans have been good to us. Some sharing is required.”
I’ve read, although I can’t immediately find the link, that the Oilers paid another $3MM into revenue sharing this year. I really don’t want to care about the arena story but, as Matt Fenwick pointed out, I can see only two reasons that the Oilers might be losing money: 1) incompetent management (see the previous four years of posts) and 2) Darryl Katz paid too much for the team and is now faced with huge interest payments that the team doesn’t generate enough revenue to justify.
As far as the first point goes, if Katz wants to continue to rub shoulders with incompetent Old Boys, that doesn’t seem to me to be something that the City of Edmonton should have to subsidize. As far as the second point goes, I’m not exactly sure what he can do. Is there a city out there where he can make more revenue than he does in Edmonton? He’s not going to move to Hamilton without a hell of a fight and I’m not convinced Hamilton’s a better hockey market than Edmonton in any event. I don’t see that he’s got a better alternative to Edmonton in terms of generating revenue. If he can’t handle the costs of his mistake, let the Oilers go bankrupt. Is there reallly a more attractive hockey market available?
As for Stephen Mandel…anyone in the position to help transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to a private enterprise who offers up such an ignorant justification doesn’t deserve to have his job. If I lived in Edmonton, I’d consider violating my no voting policy in order to vote against him.