Oilers eye central location for arena

The president of the Edmonton Oilers says the team’s owner has secured options to buy land downtown for a new arena.

The president of the Edmonton Oilers says the team’s owner has secured options to buy land downtown for a new arena.

Patrick LaForge says the idea is to build a multi-use complex that would be a sports and entertainment magnet and would revitalize the downtown core.

Specifically, The Katz Group confirmed it has reached agreements to purchase two parcels of land in downtown Edmonton: the Baccarat Casino site and the block west of the Bell Tower and south of 104th Avenue. These lands are among others under consideration for the proposed development; no final decisions have been made.

Darryl Katz pledged $100 million towards a new arena for the Oilers when he bought the team last year.

“Choosing the site has a lot to do with what goes on it and how big it might be,” LaForge said at a news conference yesterday. “We’re not down to just one place.”

LaForge also says it’s not clear whether Katz, a pharmacy billionaire who heads the Katz Group chain of Rexall drugstores across North America, would own a new building.

“The answer is maybe. The development model for this project is yet to be discovered. It is a high priority for the group to work on.”

He says the Katz Group is talking to developers, the City of Edmonton and the province about how to proceed.

A committee studying the proposed project said in a report last spring that a downtown arena in Edmonton was both feasible and desirable.

It suggested that a mix of public and private dollars could pay for a new $450-million, 18,000-seat facility. The cost doesn’t include the price of the land.

 
 
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