The Edmonton Oilers will be staying put, thanks to an agreement finally reached between team ownership and the city the franchise has exclusively called home for almost four decades.
On Wednesday, Edmonton City Council approved the framework for a new $480 million arena which will be jointly owned and operated between the hockey team and Alberta's capital.
"This is a milestone agreement for a world class facility that will drive the ongoing revitalization of downtown Edmonton," said team owner Daryl Katz, Chair of the Katz Group. "It also helps to ensure the Oilers' long-term sustainability in Edmonton. This has been a challenging process for all concerned but we are confident we will all look back on the end result with pride and satisfaction at what we have achieved. I want to thank City Council and City Administration for their work on this file. This is a great day for Edmonton and we are excited to get to work on realizing this incredible opportunity."
Terms of the deal dictate that Katz will pay for owning and operating the arena, while the city will be responsible for the arena itself and the land surrounding it. Construction is expected to begin later this year, with a targeted completion date of 2016.
"I am pleased that we have been able to reach an understanding that is both competitive and reasonable, and will sustain NHL hockey in Edmonton long- term," said Edmonton's mayor Stephen Mandel. "Edmonton is one of the best hockey markets in the NHL. A new downtown arena built under this framework is a first-rate commitment by the City to our downtown and to the game and to the team we love."
The venue now known as Rexall Place was opened in 1974 as Northlands Coliseum to host the Oilers, who then played in the World Hockey Association, and has continued to serve as the club's home since it was accepted into the NHL for the 1979-80 season.