In their effort to secure more than $225 million in public funding for their proposed Katz Downtown Edmonton Arena, local billionaire Daryl Katz‘s company, the Katz Group, has proven that even billionaires can buy bad political advice.
The CBC revealed last week that the Katz Group has been contacting Edmonton’s Progressive Conservative MLAs asking them to redirect phone calls from constituents about the Edmonton Oilers arena deal between the city and the group. Imagine the public response if MLAs constituency offices began forwarding calls about environmental issues to a Syncrude or Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers 1-800 hotline?
The Edmonton Sun reported that the Katz Group has had discussions with the Enoch First Nation to build the area on their land west of Edmonton if the downtown proposal is not successful. The threat to move the Edmonton Oilers to another city, or to a geographical location outside of Edmonton, is a pressure tactic as old as professional sports teams have existed. It is the worst kind of bluff and it shows that the Katz Group takes Edmontonians and Oilers fans for fools.
The failure to secure an extra $100 million in public funds, despite pressure on City Council and provincial leaders, is obviously frustrating the Katz Group, which has been burning through its public good will quicker than Donald Trump‘s failed presidential run.