Alberta premier expects funding pitch for new Edmonton hockey arena

EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach says it’s too early to speculate on any potential provincial funding for a new downtown arena for the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers.

While city council has voted in favour of pursuing negotiations with the Katz Group, which owns the team, Stelmach said the province hasn’t yet received a formal funding request.

The arena is expected to cost $450 million, with $125 million coming from the city and another $125 million to be raised through a surcharge on tickets. Darryl Katz of the Katz Group has pledged $100 million, but sources have yet to be found for a $100 million shortfall.

“Nobody’s come forward,” Stelmach told reporters before addressing his annual premier’s dinner in Edmonton.

Stelmach pointed out that provincial legislation forbids public money going to privately owned facilities.

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“Our legislation is very clear,” he said. “We cannot provide any direct funding to private enterprise.”

One of the stipulations that city council put on the project is that the arena and the land would be owned by the city but Katz and his company would be responsible for operating costs.

The city also wants Katz to promise he will keep the team in the city for the next 30 years.

Stelmach said he expects a proposal to come forward soon.

“We had a good chat with the mayor earlier. They’ll be working through a presentation and at some point he’ll be paying a visit to my office.”

He pointed out that any requests from Edmonton are likely to be matched by one from Calgary.