Edmonton Oilers leadership group took a trip to Seattle on Monday to talk things over with the city and private Seattle investor Chris Hansen. They are currently awaiting the city of Edmonton to work on and approve a new deal for an arena. They are estimated to need about $450 million to build.
The official statement from the Katz Group (Edmonton Oilers ownership) says they are working hard to make it work in Edmonton but are entertaining other offers:
We remain committed to working with City Administration to achieve a deal commensurate with what Winnipeg and Pittsburgh have done to sustain the NHL in those small markets. If we can achieve such a deal, the Oilers will remain in Edmonton and we can get on with the important work of developing the new arena and investing in the continued revitalization of Edmonton’s downtown core.
Nonetheless, and as the City of Edmonton is aware, the Katz Group has been listening to proposals from a number of potential NHL markets for some time. After more than four years of trying to secure an arena deal and with less than 24 months remaining on the Oilers’ lease at Rexall Place, this is only prudent and should come as no surprise.
The move simply looks to be a power play for the owners of the Oilers for a bargaining chip on staying in Edmonton. However, as a Seattle SuperSonics fan, I must warn any Oiler fan or NHL fan that things can go south fast (literally and figuratively). And sure, here in Seattle we would love to have an NHL team. We would even gladly accept the outstanding franchise of the Oilers, but if there is deception to bring them here, it will hit all too close to home.
The reasons it looks to be a power-play by the Oilers owners:
- They visited on the day that Seattle approved the building of a $490 million NBA/NHL arena. This was a smart move by both Chris Hansen (Seattle billionaire making the arena happen) and by the leadership group of the Oilers. Both have now shown that they mean serious business. The Oilers are saying to Edmonton, ‘Hey look, Seattle is willing to make it happen! Are you?” Chris Hansen is saying to both Seattle and the NBA, “Told you I was about to make this happen.”
- The Oilers still have 24 months to make it work in Edmonton. That isn’t an incredible amount of time, but they can get a deal in place by then and temporary live in their current arena.
- The NHL loves the Edmonton Oilers and the abundance of history that has happened for that team, in that city. It would be a hard sell for the NHL to approve.
- The fan-base is crazy in Edmonton and they will do whatever it takes to push the deal.
The reasons why you should be nervous about the move:
- Greed is the name of the game. I don’t know the Katz Group nor will I pretend to, but greed plays into everything when cash sums are that high.
- Seattle Supersonics were beloved by the NBA and had a rich history in the city. However, the move was accepted and approved by the NBA.
- The Sonics fan-base was crazy in Seattle and willing to make it happen. No matter what you hear, the attendance at games had nothing to do with the Sonics move. It was all deceit and it was all a plan to make it happen once Clay Bennett bought the team. Now you see the crazy fan-base has re-emerged to bring an NBA team back.
- Edmonton is known to be stubborn. And as a city, it no longer can be stubborn. If they want to keep their team, it’s time to make a deal and build an arena.
All in all, I think the Oilers will stay in Edmonton but this is just a warning from a Sonics fan to an Oilers fan. Things can get crazy, and they can get crazy fast.