Oh, man. There are just so many amazing quotes in Terry Jones' "interview" with arena feasibility chair Lyle Best in the Sun today that I almost want to print the whole stupid goddamned thing. In fact, since the entire article is nothing more than a series of expansive block quotes uninterrupted by such nuisances as "questions" or "any semblance critical thought," I may end up doing just that.
The point of this insultingly unsubstantiated bit of puffery seems to be to convince Edmontonians that a new arena would not just be about the Oilers... and therefore, we should get the idea of asking the EIG to pay for this thing themselves out of our cone-shaped little brain casings right now. Just read this shit:
"We're looking at a win, win, win situation for Edmonton," said Best.
"That's what we've all learned quickly. It's all about Edmonton and less and less about the Oilers and Northlands.
"I'm convinced we'll be looking at something which would solidify the NHL future here for a long time to come, bring bigger and better concerts and most important, bring some life into downtown, which is something that is not happening right now.
"When Edmonton decides to do something, they do it. I've become very comfortable that there's going to be a way to get this done," Best said.
"I'm also very optimistic that people will stop thinking about millionaire hockey players and owners when it comes to a new arena, and realize it's not about that at all.
"Quite the opposite. What we're dealing with here would generate taxes to pay to fill in all those potholes. People need to see the big picture and think outside the box."
LISTEN PEOPLE, if you'd just start "thinking outside the box," you'd realize that a new arena hockey isn't just about the hockey team that will be its primary tenant and source of income for generations to come! NO! It's about other things! Like better concerts, somehow, and fixing potholes, somehow — not to mention the incredible wellspring of nightlife and culture that will magically burst forth from the earth the moment ground is broken. Why bother simply upgrading Northlands when we can have ALL THIS instead? Just look at Columbus and Kansas City, both of which the committee recently visited:
"It [renovating Rexall] would have cost a quarter billion and I don't think anybody thinks it's a very intelligent move," said Best. "It was not a very viable solution."
He said they have come back sold on a downtown development.
"Columbus and Kansas City were really driven as a complete urban development plan to revitalize downtown. It wasn't just about an arena. It was to make the entire area better. It has to be a 365-day, 24/7 thing, not just something around the time of the events.
"What we saw in Columbus was (that they built) the Nationwide Arena on a site where the Ohio State Prison stood since 1885.
"Columbus didn't raise taxes, they redirected taxes to an area which wasn't generating taxes.
"Businesses moved in to pay taxes where taxes were never paid before. There was spectacular investment in the area with lofts, condos, apartments, nightclubs and restaurants. It's been a spectacular success," Best said.
"In Kansas City, again the idea was to create tax revenue from an area which was generating absolutely (none).
"They don't have an NHL team yet, but they have 88 concert events this year.
"Both cities found ways to do all of this without going into taxpayers' pockets. And we have a huge advantage ... neither has an LRT."
Maybe someone needs to explain this to me, but how the hell is it possible to generate tax revenue without going into taxpayers' pockets? He's talking about property taxes, right? The kind of "taxes" "taxpayers" "pay"? Also, this may be the one and only time that you'll ever read the words "LRT" and "huge advantage" in the same sentence. Savour it.
Anyhow, here's Best's clincher (told you this thing was entirely quotes. Why this wasn't just a guest editorial is beyond me):
Best says a new arena for the sake of a new arena doesn't make much financial sense by itself -- even if there's a healthy debate about where you'd be left without one.
"I mean, do the math.
"Let's say it's $300 million. There's no way the revenue from hockey and concerts adds up to enough to service the debt.
"This can't just be about the Oilers or Northlands.
"That's the challenge from here. To see how creative Edmontonians can be."
Yeah, this calls for some serious creativity, all right. Let's see... we don't want to ask the millionaire owners of this wildly profitable NHL franchise to foot the bill, because hey, this is about so much more than hockey games. (CONCERTS! CULTURE!
INCREASING PROFIT MARGIN FOR MILLIONAIRE OWNERS! POTHOLE REPAIR!) And we can't pay for this through a tax hike, because then Edmontonians might realize there's no reason to do this as long as we have a perfectly acceptable arena in Rexall and no concrete proof that a downtown entertainment complex would actually have the benefits Best is touting. Well, gee whiz — I guess there's nothing left to do but just pay for it out of city coffers!
Or wait, here's a crazy thought. Why doesn't the EIG foot the bill for their new playpen? Sure, this development is really meant to improve the lives of all Edmontonians, but isn't this group all about "doing the right thing for Edmonton," after all?