The day after Edmonton Oilers brass paid a visit to Seattle and revealed they’ve been talking to a number of potential NHL markets, some at city hall questioned what have been called pressure tactics to build a new downtown arena.
“I think (team owner) Daryl Katz is too smart a business guy to want to leave Edmonton,” Coun. Kerry Diotte said Tuesday. “This is exactly the kind of thing Mario Lemieux did in Pittsburgh… and he admitted later that it’s all just to crank up the pressure.”
“(But) it’s not helpful,” he added. “This trip to Seattle has not been helpful at all.”
Katz, along with members of Oilers management, visited the Emerald City for meetings and an NFL game, a Katz Group release issued Monday said.
The release also stated the team has been listening to proposals from potential NHL markets, which “should come as no surprise” as attempts to secure a deal for a new arena in Edmonton have been ongoing for four years.
And while that fired up speculation that Katz wants to move the team, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman downplayed that Tuesday.
“We continue to believe that an arena deal is achievable, and with a new arena there should be no reason to have any doubts about the future of the Oilers in Edmonton,” Bettman said in a statement.
Mayor Stephen Mandel said talks are ongoing between the Oilers and city officials, and reiterated he wants the affair settled by the Oct. 17 city council meeting.
-With files from The Canadian Press
By the numbers
- Rexall Place was built in 1974; the Oilers lease is up in less than 24 months.
- Daryl Katz bought the team in 2008 for $200 million. It is now, according to Forbes, worth $212 million.