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Alberta premier not budging on Oilers arena cash request

The Canadian Press

7/13/2011 3:52:32 PM

CALGARY - Alberta's premier has reiterated the province will not contribute direct cash to help build a new downtown arena for the NHL's Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers cleared a major hurdle toward getting a new arena by working out a framework deal with the City of Edmonton.

It would see an 18,500-seat arena built in the downtown, but hinges on either the Alberta or federal governments coming up with $100 million for the $450 million project.

The city would pony up $125 million while Oilers owner Daryl Katz would put in $100 million. Another $125 million would come from a user-fee levy on the facility, such as a ticket tax.

"There won't be any direct dollars flowing to the arena. It's a private sector business," said Premier Ed Stelmach at an event in Calgary Wednesday.

"We've always said if they are improvements that can be made to the infrastructure around the proposed arena — LRT, water, sewer all of those that are joint responsibility of the city and the province. But we are continuing to meet."

The federal government has been equally reluctant.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear earlier this year that his government is not in the pro-hockey business and will not spend taxpayers' money on a professional sports arena or stadium.

The Oilers began beating the drum for a new rink in the Alberta capital four years ago.

Owner Daryl Katz has said the team is losing money in the 37-year-old Rexall Place and told city councillors the NHL team won't play in Rexall after its lease deal expires in 2014.