About

Purpose
Why Downtown? is 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.

Why Downtown? examines 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. It welcomes comments and feedback from people on both sides of the issue, as well as those who are undecided or simply seeking out further information and explanation.

Contributors
Andy Grabia is a freelance writer and blogger who joined Matt Fenwick and Hugh McKenzie as a writer for the popular and critically acclaimed hockey blog, The Battle of Alberta, in June 2006.

Though dormant for much of the past two years, The Battle of Alberta has received over a million page hits and almost two million page views since its beginnings in September 2005. It  has been mentioned, featured, and praised throughout the blogosphere, on sites like Out of Left Field, Puck Daddy, Off Wing Opinion, Kukla’s Korner, From the Rink and Deadspin, as well as in the Edmonton Journal, the Calgary Herald, the Vancouver Province, the Globe & Mail, the National Post, La Presse, Newsweek, SportsBusiness Daily, the New York Times and on Hockey Night in Canada. As a result of their work, Matt and Andy were also invited to be contestants on the CBC game show Test The Nation: Sports, hosted by Ron MacLean and Wendy Mesley.

Andy started writing about the downtown arena in November 2006, and has been an opponent of a publicly funded downtown arena since that time. He is a proud Edmontonian, a lifelong Oilers fan, and a supporter of the immediate canonization of Fernando Pisani.

Andy can be reached at whydowntown@gmail.com

Header Image
The header image for the website was created by Edmonton designer Nicole Braseth, using photos under Creative Commons Licensing on Flickr. The following photos were used to create the composite:

That Awful Gretzky Statue– photo taken by Colby Cosh
Edmonton City Hall 2– photo taken by Colby Cosh
Fall Photowalk in Edmonton– photo taken by Mastermaq
Edmonton-From The Telus Tower 4– photo taken by Kenneth Hynek
Downtown Edmonton 12– photo taken by Kenneth Hynek
High Level Trolley and Bridges– photo taken by Bulliver
Waydowntown– photo taken by Bulliver

8 Responses to “About”

  1. sports nut December 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    congratulations on bringing some sobering thoughts to this debate. i have been chuckling at all the promotions the katz group has been behind, imagine the parking nightmare downtown edmonton if this gets built. why would we give a billionaire carte blanche for a new arena. we have been down this path before, pocklington came to the city and northlands twice, then the eig came to them again.all three times concessions have been made.
    what i don’t like is darryl gets more seats, more skysuites\more revenue, and he still wants northlands out of the way. there is nothing wrong with the building we are in, except for darryl wants everything.

  2. Darren August 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    “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;”

    A new arena downtown would spur residential development, starting with Aurora getting off the ground. There would also be some form of residentialn space built into the project.

  3. Dave August 6, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Re: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.

    No it is not. The sight lines for hockey are terrible. The new arenas have true stadium seating so that the person in front of you is seating well below your sight line. Currently to watch either corner I have to watch the jumbo tron. Getting out of Rexall after a game is very aggravating.

    • Mark Mayner December 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

      This site and the people who run it, are the reason edmonton is, and unfortunately always will be a second rate city. We have and likely will continue going through a boom….and what will we have to show for it when it ends….nothing, not even infrastructure.

  4. John Holmes July 26, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Morning Mr. Grabia, well this will be interesting.

    The funding model for building community facilities in Canada is – tax dollars, frequently from all levels of Government, and private donations. References would be the Art Gallery, The Shaw Conference Centre, much of Northlands, The Citadel Theatre, University buildings. Things like the LRT are funded solely through tax dollars, and then operating deficits are covered by more tax dollars.
    In the case of the downtown arena, I believe the donation has been offered, $100M. It now the City management – councilors etc. job to source the other funds needed to build a new building.
    In the case of these building the users do not own them. Exhibitors and Actors do not own the Art Gallery or the Citadel. Neither should Katz own the new arena. As a tax paying Edmonton citizen I want the City to own the building.

    The Oilers need to use it for 44 nights a year. Essentially they can practice anywhere for $150.00 per hour.
    The problem is Katz/Oilers present a model where they get all the revenues from all events from all the other nights. Claim is all other NHL teams control their home building and need to financially viable.
    I’d like to think that somewhere between 44 nights and 365 nights there is point where the Oilers are financially viable in Edmonton, and where the city can cover the mortgage payment.
    Northlands receives millions of tax dollars as does Calgary, so it is not like one organization is self sustaining and the other wants tax dollars. They all get tax dollars.
    Actually in this country it could be an auto plant in Ontario, or a plane in Quebec, or a oil well in Newfoundland – they all get tax dollars.
    In my mind the only issue is how does the city pay the mortgage (building revenue sharing) while minimizing the tax increase required to do so.

  5. Kendal H July 25, 2010 at 11:06 pm #

    While I am neither pro nor con (I dont really care), the statement that the owner should pay for it entirely on his own is ridiculous. He is a smart businessman, who became so rich by being smart with his money, not making stupid investments. Just because people are rich, doesn’t mean they can be stupid with their money.

    • Andy Grabia July 26, 2010 at 12:45 am #

      He is a smart businessman, who became so rich by being smart with his money, not making stupid investments. Just because people are rich, doesn’t mean they can be stupid with their money.

      Shouldn’t that also apply to the way city council spends our money? Frankly, I’m flabbergasted by people who forward this argument. By your own admission it’s a “stupid investment.” My response would be, “just because council has public money, doesn’t mean they can be stupid with it.”

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