Archive | July, 2010

Why Downtown?

22 Jul

It has to be…wait…what? The HOK report, the report only seen by members of the Arena Feasibility Committee, the report never seen by city councillors or the public, suggested that the current Northlands site would be a better location than the proposed 104th avenue site? That can’t be true! City Shaping, the final document from the Committee, states that it has to be downtown. Why? BECAUSE IT HAS TO BE. There’s no way the HOK paper was suppressed in part because the Katz Group Oilers wanted to cut Northlands out of the process, and didn’t want council or the public knowing that it was listed as a more feasible option by the people they and the city hired to look at these things. That’s so cynical. There’s just no way that happened. That would mean the Katz Group Oilers would have an ulterior motive, like owning the land themselves and getting their hands on all the non-hockey related revenue, and that’s just crazy talk. Let’s stick to the simple answer provided in the feasibility report. Why downtown? Because we said so.

p.s. Kudos to Scott McKeen for getting his hands on that document. I don’t know how he did it, considering councillors weren’t allowed to see it, and even a FOIP request couldn’t set it free, but he did it. Well done, sir.

***Update*** See reason for strikethroughs in the comments.

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Welcome

21 Jul

“That thing’s operational!”–Lando Calrissian

We’re up like the Death Star, baby. Hello, my name is Andy Grabia, and I’ll be your host for the evening. Welcome to Why Downtown?, a pro-Edmonton, pro-downtown website that opposes the downtown arena project, as currently proposed, for one or more of the following reasons.

  1. The owner of the Edmonton Oilers, Daryl Katz, is one of the richest men in the world, and can afford to pay for an arena himself;
  2. Academic research consistently shows that there is little to no economic benefit to taxpayers when cities subsidize sporting facilities;
  3. The downtown arena project will not “revitalize” downtown Edmonton, as it does not truly solve the “problem” of the downtown core, which is a problem of low population density;
  4. The current Rexall Place is a storied, historic, and fully functional and operational hockey arena. It is a built heritage that should be protected, so that it can be enjoyed by Edmontonians and hockey fans from around the world for many years to come.

Over the next little while (God, I hope it’s just the next little while), this site is going to examine the downtown arena project from a variety of angles–economics, politics, sports, media coverage, urban planning–in the hopes of better informing Edmontonians on the issue.

For now, I will be the sole contributor to the site. It is something I care passionately about, and have written about for almost four years. But the plan, and the hope, is to bring in other contributors who also care very much about this issue. Some will write under their own name, and some will write under a nom de guerre. But they’ll all be smart people, and they’ll all know a lot about this issue. Most of them will be opposed to the arena project in one way or another, but they won’t necessarily share my point of view on every single matter. To be clear, this will not be an equal-opportunity site in terms of posted content. I can’t see the space being offered up to the Katz Group, as they already have their own space, as well as mainstream media outlets willing to let them share their side of the story. But I do encourage people to leave comments and engage in the debate, whichever side they may be on. All I ask is that everyone keep it civil. That might be too much to ask from a blog, but I’m going to ask it anyway.

I will be delivering more content as soon as possible, but it will take time. The public meeting between the Katz Group and Edmonton City Council was this afternoon, and there is lots to dissect. I’m also off to Calgary Folk Fest tomorrow, so that will prevent me from getting to everything as quickly as I want to. But my hope is to get some new content up by end of this weekend at the latest. In the meantime, take a look around the site, as well as the arena primer from my old site, The Battle of Alberta. You can also start following the page on Twitter, at twitter.com/whydowntown.