It’s not his city, or team, but Edmonton Coun. Tony Caterina certainly sees a familiar dance unfolding in the arena negotiations taking place between Calgary city council and the Calgary Flames, which will be an issue in the upcoming mayoral election.
Caterina spoke Monday to The Calgary Eyeopener, where he confirmed that when it comes to arena negotiations, the tone and tenor coming out of Calgary sounds an awful lot like what he heard in Edmonton, where the city and Oilers owner Darryl Katz fought for years before agreeing to a deal to finance the $613 million Rogers Centre, which opened to rave reviews in 2016.
Below is a condensed transcript of that conversation.
Q. Does this sound familiar to you at all?
A. It’s starting to sound awfully familiar. Certainly, the positions taken by each side is familiar as well. Each one will have their opening negotiating issue to put on the table, and now the debate starts.
Q. How did that play out in Edmonton? I remember [Oilers owner] Darryl Katz making threats similar to the ones King made Friday [that the team could make more money elsewhere].
A This one is sort of veiled slightly, but basically [it’s] the same sort of idea, the possibility of the Flames leaving Calgary to [play in] some other destination. That is always a tactic that’s used to pull on the heartstrings and get that conversation and public sentiment on their side. It’s a little more complicated than that. The NHL is governed by 30 governors and they actually have to decide whether a team can actually move or not move, so that’s the first thing that I would say to consider — and this will be part of the negotiations.
Certainly, whoever gains the trust of the public, and the sentiment of the public, will probably be in a better position to negotiate.
Q. Didn’t [Katz] threaten three times to move [the Oilers out of Edmonton]?
A. Yes I believe it was three times. [Although he] did it slightly more openly than just a comment like that [from King] — visited Quebec City, visited Seattle — so there were a number of explicit suggestions that maybe the team might move if we didn’t agree to certain terms.
Q. There’s an argument going around that Calgary doesn’t…