Thursday, August 9, 2007

'That's the challenge here. To see how creative Edmontonians can be'

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?

63 comments:

jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jon said...

Whatabunchofdouchebags.

How is it that within the space of a few months we go from Cal Nichols declaring that the Oilers need a new arena to remain financially viable, to the EIG turning down a 170 million dollar offer from a man offering to assist in building of said arena, to the appointed "committee" determining that THE CITY needs this new arena and not the Oilers. What an unbelievable series of bullshit events.

Par said...

"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."


It's amazing how quickly 2 1/2 Oilers reps and 2 1/2 Northlands reps learn that this new arena is about neither the Oilers nor Northlands.

No doubt this means that the Mayor will re-draw the committee based on who the arena does benefit. One hopes that the pothole-repair crews finally get a representative on the committee this time around.

Pleasure Motors said...

C'mon Edmonton: let's see how creatively you can take money out of your own pocket! Personally, I plan to do it while executing a backflip and singing "La Marseillaise" through a kazoo.

NoMoreEIG said...

"Thinking outside the box", in this circumstance, would be the city of Edmonton collectively giving a RESOUNDING NO to this corporate welfare scheme.

David S said...

It all makes sense if you think of Cal Nichols as Dr Evil and Pat Laforge as Number 2.

Corn Flake said...

Worth posting again. Say no to Candy Mountain.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=JPONTneuaF4

Lord Bob said...

Wow. It's almost like Mandel stacked the committee with people sure to put the arena project forward! That's... that's... unscrupulous!

See, here's the problem with Mandel (well, the major problem). The guy is one of those Legacy Politicians. He wants to fill Edmonton with stuff that will have people saying "ah, Mandel built this" years after he's retired to a villa bought entirely with dirty money in the river valley. Nobody would ever say "Mandel filled this pothole" or "Mandel redid this road", though.

So, really, Edmontonians are kinda fucked.

James said...

I have no objections to someone with visions to make this city better--expanding the LRT to the south, west, and southeast, for instance, is a laudible goal.

But I firmly fucking reject half-baked ideas that will allow the City to line the pockets of a bunch of cheapskate millionaire businessmen.

Chris! said...

"Worth posting again. Say no to Candy Mountain."

Not sure what that has to do with anything, but funny stuff.

Also, it occurs to me that I could have saved myself a lot of time on this post by simply providing this link instead:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4fCbqjWiek

deltamike said...

POTHOLE REPAIR!!! WOO!!!

If there was a Pulitzer prize for blogging, CIO would win going away.

Anonymous said...

I'm... glad I live in Toronto every time I see something like this.

MetroGnome said...

Transparent and disgusting. Im surprised Best didn't try the old "THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!" while he was at it.

Anonymous said...

What if Katz PUBLICALLY says that he'd 'love to build the new stadium' at his OWN expense, the only thing he'd ask for is say 25% stake in the team, and first chance to buy out anybody else's shares. The city couldn't very well go to taxpayers after that, and in fact would pressure EIG to acquiesce to Katz. Once Katz gets his nose under the tent the rest is done with leisure till boots Cal Nicholls right in the balls and off the board.

randy in the med hizzo said...

I don't know... I find it hard to believe that in the greatest boom known to Edmonton since origin of Klondike Days, a city of one million can't hobble together enough faith in themselves to build a new hockey rink. Northlands has always been run like the mob on wheels, much the same way the Calgary Stampede board is "non-profit". Lyle Best is actually a pretty notable mover and shaker (Quickcard Solutions, a psuedo-insurance company and minor hockey week sponsor). And it might be a sad fact of life today, but buildings are not privately built. It just doesn't happen anymore.

Chris! said...

Randy, I don't know if this has anything to do with a city having faith in itself, although that does get thrown around a lot. I think it simply comes down to the fact that taxpayers should not be expected to pony up for a private building that will make a small number of owners richer, without being shown any proof that doing so will benefit the city or its citizens in any measureable way. Is that unreasonable?

mc79hockey said...

Shouldn't the crack dealers be represented on this committee? It sounds to me like they're the ones who will really suffer.

Pleasure Motors said...

I think it simply comes down to the fact that taxpayers should not be expected to pony up for a private building that will make a small number of owners richer, without being shown any proof that doing so will benefit the city or its citizens in any measureable way.

Further to that, once again the main problem for me is not necessarily Edmontonians paying for a new arena, but the fact that no one ever mentions anything about Edmontonians getting any kind of direct profit from that arena. Why should we have to settle for fringe benefits—if there are indeed any—when we're footing the bill?

I will be a lot less bitter and cynical about this whole thing when that at least gets mentioned by someone in the press, or in the mayor's office, or on this board. I'm not holding my breath.

McLea said...

"And so, my fellow Edmontonians, ask not what the EIG can do for you - ask what you can do for the EIG. God Bless Alberta."

Lyle Best

Baroque said...

I was entirely unaware that "creative" is a synonym for "gullible."

The comment about Legacy Politicians is dead on. You get a name on a new bridge and your picture in the paper at the groundbreaking ceremony--you don't get squat for maintaining the bridges that are already built, but there are quite a few Minnesotans who would be grateful if a few politicians had cared about maintenance some years ago.

Maybe if politicians could put a little nameplate on the road every time they fixed a pothole? It would be like the stars on the Hollywood walk of fame, but with a practical purpose!

David S said...

Funny that you have a picture of Simpson drawing a picture of Lyle Best just below this post.

Baroque said...

It also drives me nuts when people mix their units--it's like trying to compare meters per second and miles per hour.

Renovation: a quarter of a billion dollars.

New arena (hypothetical): 300 million dollars.

Anytime some people hear "million" and "billion" they know billion is larger than a million, so it escapes their notice that renovation would coast less...plus somehow I don't think the price of demolishing the old arena would be negative $50 million. If Edmonton doesn't demolish it, they could use it for housing for the drug-using hobos driven out of downtown by the gusher of culture spurting out of the ground at the site of the new arena.

Rock Deputy said...

The amount of every ticket sold past the capacity of Rexall Place should be given over the Pot-Hole people. If the EIG won't fork over a cent then they shouldn't earn a penny from the extra seating.

Anonymous said...

***sorry,off topic ***
Anyone else hear that Gretzky is in town for a charity golf tourney?
If true, it's just a funny coincidence because was it not this day, 19 years ago, when he was traded right? Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

If Edmonton's taxpayers get stuck with the bill for a new arena, Mandel can suck the nickels out of my d*** in lieu of a cheque for my municipal taxes. Do the right thing, Edmonton voters, and get rid of this a**hole.

Avi Schaumberg said...

I feel like I'm walking in a foot of sand. And there's no end in sight.

Anonymous said...

We got tent city downtown right now and all Mandel can think about is a new arena downtown.

Priorities Mr. Mayor! Start with the tent city first!

gary b said...

welcome to the new vision of progress for a city- build, abandon, ignore. repeat.

so what happens to the area/neighbourhoods around the current arena location if Rexall is empty/imploded? that part of the city has struggled/declined for a long time, and only recently is starting to recover/become viable and alive again. pulling out of that arena effectively kills most businesses on 118th Ave, i'd say.

personally, i think sprucing up the existing arena for 300M$ or whatever it is works just as well. the place isn't falling apart. the LRT is right next door. considering the history of the area (old Fort Road, etc.), why not further improve/develop the area? why not condos/hotels/more restaurants around there? hell, Wayne Gretzky Drive is there too, for chrissakes - or will they move that downtown as well?

i just don't know how this thing flies, with the homeless problem (i suspect that EIG members have their auto windows tinted on the INSIDE, and therefor have never actually SEEN the tent city), the need for improved infrastructure (roads, etc.). well, check that, i do - we're in the middle of a boom, so it's spend spend spend! the Mayor's probably wanked all over the new arena model so many times they've had to install a jizz, i mean sneeze guard.

and aren't there condos, apartments, nightclubs, etc. downtown already? are hordes of people going to just hang around downtown in the dead of winter waiting for the next hockey game to start?
i see no difference between a downtown arena/entertainment complex and one of those ridiculous googleplex movie theatres stuck out in the middle of nowhere. what else can it possibly offer to the average Edmontonian? - you go, you see your game/movie/concert, you leave.

what the EIG/mayor should really do is build one giant tower with an arena on the bottom. a few thousand stories high, visible from space... the entire populace can live in that mighty tower, and we can all take escalators to the game, and later we can all join hands and drink pops and dance circles around the structure.

aaargh. this whole thing is maddening.

Anonymous said...

I was in our lovely downtown contributing to this mythical "downtown nightlife" and it seems that between the various condo projects and art galleries and facade redevelopments and whatnot our little downtown looks to be turning out just right. A bumpin downtown doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't seem like plopping an arena down there overnight is going to turn downtown Edmonton into the hip-hoppinest place in the USA. Is the 5 minute LRT ride that prohibitive? I'm sick of this Cal Nichols chump

Don't worry dudes, I didn't pee on anything.

-Ben

Rock Deputy said...

I think the city should build a new arena downtown and make Rexall Place into a 24/7 monster truck show.

Can I get an 'amen'?

Chris! said...

"A bumpin downtown doesn't happen overnight"

Especially when the city has already worked so hard to discourage clubs and bars from opening up downtown, instead pushing them into the increasingly gross hellhole that is Whyte Ave, aka. Electric Ave 2.0.

I'm sure that no one involved in this project actually wants "nightlife" in downtown Edmonton. They're probably thinking more like a few extra tables during the dinner rush at Kelseys.

LittleFury said...

chris! have you been downtown lately? Bars are about the only thing opening up down there, what with your Oil City Whorehouses and whatnots. If anything, the city seems intent on transferring some of the Whyte Ave douche infestation downtown in hopes of making the entire city a soulless wasteland populated by the walking suburban dead who roam our garbage strewn streets in search of dollar highballs and furtive handjobs in the back of Jennifer's Chevy Cavalier. An arena (on game nights and post-Nickleback concerts, anyway) would simply act as a massive douche magnet, bringing the same kind of binge drink and pillage that turned Whyte from an interesting quasi-artsy strip to the giant pool of suck it is today. If that's the vision, then I'm glad I got out of there when I did.

It's also pretty fuckin' funny hearing Best pimping the arena as part of a "complete urban development plan to revitalize downtown." when there's apparantly no such thing at work in Edmonton.

Randy in the Med Hizzo said...

Without a futur-o-scope I'm not sure what sort of proof you're going to get that the building and its downtown location are going to benefit the taxpayers of Edmonton.
On the other hand, having no potholes would allow you to hand out pamphlets at the airport that read "Welcome to Edmonton, the pothole-less city. A city that had the foresight and gumption to defeat auto-man's most terrifying foe."
As for the EIG getting rich off this the 32 richest Edmontonians would have gotten richer anyway. But if that's really your worry, why not abolish Northlands and get the City to run Rexall?

Chris! said...

"As for the EIG getting rich off this the 32 richest Edmontonians would have gotten richer anyway. But if that's really your worry, why not abolish Northlands and get the City to run Rexall?"

Randy, that's still no justification for asking taxpayers to fund a new arena. It's their profit, let them invest. Edmontonians have nothing tangible to gain from a downtown sports complex.

petrock said...

chris! have you been downtown lately? Bars are about the only thing opening up down there,

I guess you've missed all the condo developments.

PS: Fuck the EIG.

Rock Deputy said...

allow you to hand out pamphlets at the airport that read "Welcome to Edmonton, the pothole-less city...

Why don't we divert money from the rat-free Alberta budget to fix all the pot-holes? Seriously... does anyone still give a shit that there are no rats?

the sieve said...

Have any of you considered that a new arena may stop potential free agents' wives from refusing to move to Edmonton?

I mean, seriously, Rexall Place is soooo last century. A spiffy new building may help overcome Mrs. Blondissima's idea that she's moving to Sticksville. No?

R in the MH said...

Who foot the bill for Commonwealth? Government. Who gets to play in a stadium that's way too big (for 6 out of 8 homegames each year) and basically hold veto power over every other event held there? The Eskimos.
Name a privately built stadium or hockey rink in either Canada or the United States in the last 20 years and maybe I'll begin to agree with your point about how taxpayers shouldn't be so gullible.

Anonymous said...

Name a privately built stadium or hockey rink in either Canada or the United States in the last 20 years and maybe I'll begin to agree with your point about how taxpayers shouldn't be so gullible.

What about the fact that there's nothing wrong with Rexall (despite what EIG says)?

P.L. said...

Rexall is a dump. You must be deaf if you cannot hear the groundswell of support for a new arena.

Chris! said...

"Rexall is a dump. You must be deaf if you cannot hear the groundswell of support for a new arena."

Great contribution, p.l. Very convincing.

And Randy, I totally hear what you're saying. And if the EIG and the city's arena feasbility group would put the situation in such plain language, I might not be so bothered by this. But all this talk of "better concerts" and "downtown nightlife" is just garbage. Where's the evidence to support it? Why should we believe these things will happen?

If the EIG just came out and said that Edmonton tax dollars should pay for their new arena because they feel like making more money and would be less compelled to pull up stakes sell the team to the highest American bidder in the next 10 years, at least taxpayers could make a truly informed decision.

What they're selling right now is ethereal, unquantifiable bullshit. And I don't like it.

Anonymous said...

Name a privately built stadium or hockey rink in either Canada or the United States in the last 20 years and maybe I'll begin to agree with your point about how taxpayers shouldn't be so gullible.

GM Place. Nationwide Arena. The ACC. The Bell Centre. That's just off the top of my head.

Tyler said...

The Giants stadium in San Fran.

David S said...

Or until a few days ago, Rexall Stadium in downtown Edmonton.

David S said...

uhhh...I meant "Rexall Forum"

*Stadium* - beer started talking early

Chris! said...

Uh, isn't it Rexall Place?

Sounds like the beer's still talking.

David S said...

Chris! - I was talking about the "Forum" Katz was gonna build - downtown

Not that many beers yet.

the weaz said...

Why does there have to be something wrong with Rexall to build a new arena? Does pieces of concrete have to start falling on our heads or sections of seating have to crush the lower section before you're convinced that the place is indeed a dump? The place is old. So yeah, let's get on planning on a new arena before we have problems a la Boston Gardens. How we pay for it? I dunno...

LittleFury said...

Why does there have to be something wrong with Rexall to build a new arena?

Well, given the outrageous construction costs, the labour shortages and all that other boomtime fun, $500M will get us a rink that would cost $250M anywhere else. It seems kind of silly to me to throw all that extra money away on something that's not neccesary at this juncture.

Anonymous said...

Finally this thread is starting to make some sense.Edmonton needs a new arena. Read the article again and find where it says EIG is not going to contribute? Where does it say tax payer money other than the obvious NEW money that will be generated from NEW commercial and NEW residential taxpayers will pay for this? Where does it say the deal is done and the die is cast? Can't anyone read between the lines and see that the project is only viable if the investment opportunities for developers makes sense? If they don't do not look for a new arena any time soon. If you want a refurbed Rexall I know the taxpayers will be on the hook. Think a little harder about this and quit reacting to silly inflamatory comments.

Jacknut said...

Does pieces of concrete have to start falling on our heads or sections of seating have to crush the lower section before you're convinced that the place is indeed a dump? The place is old.

30 years is not old for a building. Rexall has some of the best sight lines in the league, as it was built primarily for hockey. What it does not have is 1,5000 more seats or a few dozen more luxury boxes. Why should tax payers care about that?

Looking at city-owned Northlands financial statements, there's mention of some renovation needed and that some of the physical equipment is going to be out of date in 15 years or so (ie. a new ice machine is a different matter from falling concrete), but any idea that this arena is at a state of collapse is a LaForge fallacy bought hook line and sinker...

Where does it say tax payer money other than the obvious NEW money that will be generated from NEW commercial and NEW residential taxpayers will pay for this?

Ever move somewhere because it had a NHL hockey rink on your block? Do you hang out at all of the fine establishments next to Rexall or Commonwealth Stadium? Me Neither. Revitalizing downtowns and hockey rinks should be treated as separate issues (read the scores of studies that show publicly-funded arenas do little for local economies, to start), although EIG is doing their best to confuse the two.

P.L. said...

I'm sick of all this anti-business demagoguery! Aren't we supposed to be the most pro-business, conservative province in the country? The way you people talk about social responsibility, you'd think it was the second coming of Karl Marx.

Second of all, the point about bringing more and better concerts to Edmonton with a new arena is pretty obviously true. With more seating capacity, bigger artists will be more inclined to make Edmonton a destination for their tours, given the extra money they'll pull in from the tour date. This is just common sense that I suppose I'm not surprised that a bunch of people who lack a basic understanding in the tenets of economics would fail to recognize.

A new arena is GOING to happen. Either join the team or get out of the way. It's right for our community. It's right for the Oilers. It's right here, right now.

mike w said...

Aren't we supposed to be the most pro-business, conservative province in the country?

I'm a free market thinker, so much so that I don't believe in giving away money and subsidizing hockey teams. Invisible hand and all that...

A new arena is GOING to happen. Either join the team or get out of the way. It's right for our community. It's right for the Oilers. It's right here, right now.

Patrick LaForge everybody!

(And since when has Edmonton had trouble attracting big name acts to Rexall? Oh right, never. At a glance over at TicketMaster I see Justin Timberlake, Hilary Duff, Snoop Dogg, etc. The list goes on.)

Anonymous said...

Yes and look at where most of the big acts are not going.Calgary. This because their building cannot handle the rigging and equipment the new bigger arena shows are demanding. There are acts now and certainly there numbers are rising that Rexall can't accomodate.btw Snoop ain't no big thing.

Chris! said...

Patrick Laforge, everybody!

So for all your bullying polemic, is that really the greatest benefit you think a new arena will afford Edmontonians? A couple extra Shania Twain concerts? Lame.

Anyhow, once you're done spouting divisive "us vs. them" assholery and reciting Van Halen lyrics, feel free to actually provide some proof to support your claims.

Chris! said...

Mike and I share the same brain.

Art Vandelay said...

This is 2007. A mature, vibrant, confident city does not need to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at a hockey rink. Are we so desperate for a shared experience that we're willing to allow our politicians to steal from us to give to millionaire hockey players and millionaire team owners?
If Edmonton wanted to be world class, it could use that half-billion to seed enough arts and culture projects and organizations that New Yorkers might weep with envy. Have the fervent supporters of this Mandel-Nichols welfare scheme ever attended, say, a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony with a friend? Is there joy in sharing that experience, or does everything have to come with a parade and a riot to make us feel validated?
Dozens of other cities have hockey rinks capable of hosting NHL hockey. Big deal. Anybody actually been to Buffalo? Hamilton? Depressing shitholes. But have you ever heard someone say, "Quebec City. I'm never going there. They don't have NHL hockey."?? Not bloody likely.
And at the risk of setting up a straw man, if someone wants to argue that sports is more popular than arts & culture, so if we're going to waste tax money on anything it should be on whatever's more popular, then downtown ought to feature a huge porn and video game emporium, since they're both vastly more popular than pro sports.

mike w said...

Oooh, blue text!

This because their building cannot handle the rigging and equipment the new bigger arena shows are demanding.

Give us a specific example.

MetroGnome said...

I'm sick of all this anti-business demagoguery!

You think opposing government intervention and looting of tax-payer funds for pet projects is "anti-business demagoguery"??

Also, there is a certain amount of irony in the fact you used the term "demagogue" to repudiate those opposing this pork barrel scheme.

Art Vandelay said...

Sorry. I'm not sure how that happened. Wasn't trying to be posh.

Anonymous said...

GM place in Vancouver was built privately. No civic/tax payer money was used for capital costs.

If Boss Hogg is able to get public money for edmonton's new arena, then I hope you guys get at least a couple of T-shirts out of this.

Anonymous said...

Faith Hill and McGraw played two shows in Edmonton because the saddledome could not handle the weight from its trusses.Rexall almost had to say no because the limit was painfully close. Timberlake cant play Calgary either same problem. These acts and many others like Celine Dion and McCartney and Prince and the list is endless are managed by the same U.S. company that is building bigger and more expansive arena shows.

Anonymous said...

"An arena (on game nights and post-Nickleback concerts, anyway) would simply act as a massive douche magnet"

Solid gold, sir!

Jan Itor.