|(NHL) Oilers to have new area
Edmonton city officials approved the framework for a US$480 million arena deal to jointly operated by the city and the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers, ensuring the team stays in Edmonton.
Construction is set to begin later this year with a target of completing the new arena in 2016, AFP reports.
"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,'' Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel said.
"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 team's current home opened as Northlands Coliseum in 1974, two year's after the club was formed, and has seen the Oilers draw sellout crowds in good times and bleak despite being among the oldest arenas in the 30-team league.
The Oilers won five Stanley Cup titles in seven seasons from 1984 through 1990, most of them with legendary all-time scoring king Wayne Gretzky wearing the blue and orange uniform.
Years of talks finally produced a deal that would ensure the club remains in northern Alberta, with Oilers owner Daryl Katz paying to own and operate the arena with the city responsible for the arena and profitable land around it.
"This is a milestone agreement for a world class facility that will drive the ongoing revitalization of downtown Edmonton,'' Katz said. "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. We're excited to get to work on realizing this incredible opportunity.''