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City of Edmonton & Oilers' rink deal

The Edmonton Oilers are getting a new downtown arena.

The NHL team and city councillors agreed Wednesday to resurrect a previous deal that collapsed three months ago when Oilers owner Daryl Katz demanded $6 million more a year from taxpayers.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel says the new deal is airtight.

"It's 100 per cent. A deal is done. Council has approved it. All the other stuff is just going through some steps," Mandel told reporters after the 10-3 decision by councillors.

"I'm absolutely confident that we will go ahead, and at some point in time all of us will go to a new arena with great pride.

"It will be the nicest, most dynamic arena you've ever been to."

Katz was not at the decisive council meeting, but his negotiator, John Karvellas, said his boss recognized the negotiating logjam had to be smashed.

"We were at the end of the line," Karvellas told reporters. "It was time that we needed to conclude a deal and I think Daryl felt exactly the same way.

"I made the comment to him that we're not going to have any more chances. If we're going to make a deal with the city we have to bring it home, and I think he made some very significant compromises."

Katz dropped the demand for the extra $6 million a year and abandoned a demand that the city break its tendering policy and move its staff into a proposed new Katz office tower beside the rink.

In return, city councillors agreed that taxpayers, instead of the Oilers, will be on the hook for major repairs and renos at the $480-million facility.

That's a $30 million boost from the original price tag of $450 million. When surrounding infrastructure is factored in, the bill for the entire project is to reach $601 million.

Construction is slated to begin in the fall and the arena should be ready for pro hockey by 2016. The rink is a futuristic design of glass walls and wavy horizontal lines.

The Canadian Press


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