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Survey Shows Conditional Support for Arena Project

January 13, 2011

According to a December telephone survey, 59 per cent of respondents support developing a downtown arena, while 67 per cent said they would support the arena, providing taxes don’t increase and infrastructure dollars aren’t reallocated.

Edmontonians also said that they want assurances that the risks and benefits are appropriately shared and the proposed project truly benefits Edmonton as it proceeds. The statistically valid survey of 800 Edmonton adults was done in late December, following the receipt of almost 29,000 online questionnaires in which Edmontonians were asked their opinion on the proposed project.

“We know there are still questions to be answered about who benefits and how the risks should be shared, and we’ll be working on those in the coming months should Council approve us proceeding,” says City Manager Simon Farbrother. “Edmontonians will need to know that the public interest is being looked after with this project, if any public dollars are to be used to support it.”

The consultation input also showed that Edmontonians want to know that the local community is involved and benefits from the proposed arena, that an agreement is in place to keep the Oilers in Edmonton for the life of the deal, that a plan for Rexall Place is developed, and that public money doesn’t go into retail aspects of the project.

The report on the community consultations polling is included in a series of reports going to Council on January 17, updating the status of discussions and the findings of work examining possible options around the project.

An examination of financing options concluded that that the City could raise $250 million through a combination of a facility fee (ticket tax) and a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL), with $125 million coming through each option.

“In our research and review we looked at many different financing models from around the league, and determined that this approach could work well for Edmonton,” Farbrother adds.

City administration is also suggesting that a foundation - a not-for-profit organization led by a board with public participation – could oversee the operations and management of the facility, similar to approaches currently used to manage arenas in Calgary and Pittsburgh.

The City reports to be discussed January 17 also take a closer look at how the community could benefit from the development of the proposed arena and entertainment district. Benefits identified include: strengthening the overall health of the Oilers and its commitment to Edmonton, enhancing marketability and promotion for Edmonton, direct financial and economic impacts of a new facility, downtown revitalization, and reinforcing existing social networks and programs.

City administration and Northlands are still exploring options for Rexall Place and the role of Northlands should a new arena be built.

For more information:

Ronna Bremer

Corporate Communications

Title Director

780-405-6484 (cell)