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  • Wednesday's Responses

    Wednesday Question Thread
    October 21, 2009

    Thank you again to all who sent in these terrific questions. I was pleased to be able to share my thoughts and feeling on behalf of The Katz Group and Rexall Sports. I hope to see you at Rexall Place this winter.

    It has been brought to my attention that one of the concerns of downtown residents might be that the arena will function similarly to a very large where 20,000 partially inebriated customers all leave the building at the same time and are unleashed on downtown. How will you address these concerns and ensure that downtown continues to be a place to encourage residential development?

    Downtown Edmonton Community League -

    Great question. We are fully committed to the City of Edmonton Community Consultation Model. So we will engage the local community but one of our goals is to make downtown more livable for all stakeholders so I think we’re on the same page.

    Patrick - What are your tentative timelines for this project? ie. approx. when will an architect be selected, when will we see some preliminary drawings and finally when would you envision construction to commence???

    We are hoping to have a lead architect selected in the next month or two with drawings to follow in the Spring.

    I am very interested in knowing how involved the Oilers and Katz will be in the development outside of the actual arena itself... will they be the ones building condos, office towers, hotels, casinos? If not, have you been in contact with parties interested in developing these other parts of the arena development? When might we know who these other interested parties are?

    Katz Group is leading the development. What few people realize is that there is more to the Katz Group than pharmacies, sports and entertainment. Also included is a company called C&H. C&H is involved in land assembly, site and building development, and the operation of 50 different development projects in Canada and the United States. These projects range from small commercial sites to a comprehensive mixed use commercial and residential project of 60 acres. News of potential partners and various negotiations cannot be shared until after agreements have been firmed up. I’m sure you understand

    If a new Arena is built downtown and owned/managed by the Katz Group/Oilers are there any additional sporting 'anchor' tenants that are currently not in the Katz Group/Oilers that you would be interested in bringing in?

    A bit too early for that one. We have the Oilers and the Oil Kings bringing 90 nights of fantastic hockey so that’s a great start.

    Also - Is it possible to use a diferent colored font in reply to all of the questions - Thanks.

    I see from an answer to another poster that you have no plans to run for mayor. That said, what suggestions would you give to someone seeking that office? How could someone in that position better advance Edmonton business interests and tourism interests in Canada and abroad?

    I’ll give you my honest answer to that one. Like many citizens living in the GER I believe Edmonton has great potential to become the Greatest Northern City and subsequently, the single biggest thing we can do in my mind is to advance Edmonton’s business interests and our attractiveness as a tourist destination with an iconic development that revitalizes our city center. Think of what the Bird’s Nest stadium did for Beijing or what Skydome did for central Toronto. If we could do that in the heart of our city it would be a whole lot easier to get people – and businesses – to see Edmonton for the great place it is.

    You’ve obviously heard comments about Edmonton being an “unattractive” market for players. Everything from the Chris Pronger event, to a survey that placed Edmonton just above Buffalo as a place to play is regurgitated in the media and other circles. This also appears to play in business decisions when it comes to locating or expanding a business here. Is this “unattractive” perception more perception than reality? If it is more reality, what if anything can be done to change it or promote our location’s benefits rather than its detractions?

    I think it’s both. First we have to make the heart of our city more livable and attractive, then we have to make sure the world knows about it. That said, I think Edmonton has a lot to offer and I know the vast majority of past and present Oilers, and their families, feel the same way.

    Since joining C2E, a hot topic continues to be air service. We even hear comments from people like Edmonton native Kelly Hurdey about choosing to live in Calgary simply due to connections. Do find as a business leader, and as a member of the Oiler’s organization, that access to Edmonton by air is any more difficult than other places? Do you find the team travel schedule adversely hampered? Do you hear complaints from visiting team officials about getting here?

    As Chamber president, did you find that our air access was an impediment?

    If you’re asking me to weigh in on the debate over the muni, I’ll take a pass. Everywhere has its pluses and minuses. To reach the world and for the world to get here we travelers and business leaders want best possible air services. It has improved over the years and we have to continue to work at this every day. Don’t settle for second best. I stay in touch with my politicians and ask for their help with travel needs

    I am not sure if you can clear a rampant rumour but during the City Center Airport debate, it was quite the talk around the water cooler that there was a huge shift in the Chamber's position from a closure stance to one of expansion. Do you know if this was the case, or was it simply misinformation and conjecture? I do not recall ever hearing a firm and official Edmonton Chamber of Commerce position.

    That’s a question for the Chamber.

    Rexall Sports now owns the Capitals, the Oilers, and the Oil Kings. Are there plans to expand the Edmonton offering to include a professional soccer team, basketball, or even the Eskimos?

    The Capitals have been a great experience and I encourage you all to get down to Telus Field in the Spring – you can’t beat $9 bucks for a ballgame. To answer your question…I expect Rexall Sports will look at other offerings down the road, but there’s nothing to report with respect to “what” or “when” or even “where”.

    Given Rexall’s involvement with the Rexall Edmonton Indy, do you forsee the Indy remaining in Edmonton past 2010? Given the recent City Center Airport decision, do you know if the timeline of the Indy in Edmonton is already predetermined? If it is to stay, do you have suggestions as to how this event can be more inclusive to fans on and off site?

    Edmontonians love car races and our Rexall Indy gets great crowds. Rexall is a proud sponsor of the Rexall Edmonton Indy but whether it stays or not is a question for Northlands. As a personal car racing fan I sure hope it stays. I love the shots of our downtown with the race track and full grandstands in front of the towers. I also like how that looks to the thousands of race fans watching the TV show around the world. That’s a very good thing

    I am trying not to ask an arena question, but the concept of this complex is that it is more than just an arena. I keep hearing conversations on office towers and residences. Granted, the conversation is still embryonic, but is Rexall Sports gathering more land than just the potential site of the Bacarrat? Does Rexall Sports envision something more than just an arena for the area?

    Yes, absolutely. We have said many, many times this not about an arena. Our vision for the new district contemplates shops, restaurants, hotels, office towers, performing arts, public space, a casino and so on…all anchored by a world-class sports and entertainment venue. The key to making it all go though, is the arena. And the key to making the arena go is having the Oilers there as the anchor tenant.

    My apologies for the long list, but this is the last day. I tried to re-edit and space out the list, but I am having trouble doing so. I guess it is an old guy vs computers issue.

    Thank you again for your time. I echo the sentiments of a previous poster in congratualting you on an impressive set of achievements, and your support of Edmonton.

    About Expo 2017 –
    Rexall is an official “2017 Booster” along with hundreds of other Edmonton businesses. We think there are some great potential synergies between downtown revitalization and everything an Expo could do for Edmonton. I've met with the chair of the bid committee, Tony Franceschini, and have offered to help out.