Katz and Copps: Why Edmonton should be concerned.

Darryl Katz looking to take over the lease on Copps Coliseum says something incredibly important about his plans for Edmonton’s Arena District, but not in the way that most are speculating. A fair amount of speculation on the matter relates to how the Katz group may be using this as a veiled threat to help secure support for the Oilers new arena.I’m a little less skeptical.I’m more of the mindset that Daryl Katz is an incredibly smart businessman and he legitimately sees value in operating sports and entertainment venues. The Katz Group, in connection with the Edmonton Oilers organization, has been incredibly successful at building both the Oilers and Rexall brands. Rexall Place is well regarded as one of the most successful concert venues in North America. There is no doubt that they would do well to expand such a successful entertainment operation (and Rexall pharmacies brand no doubt) into a new market.So what should these mean to Edmontonians and the quest for the Edmonton Arena District?It means that operating an arena is a valuable business venture and a smart financial investment. Katz is moving to purchase Copps and other venues in Hamilton because he believes he can make money there.I tend to agree. Entertainment is a solid market and running a sports entertainment complex is a viable business. It is a good investment that will pay off for the investor.Which is precisely why I am opposed to using public funds for the project.Public money is collected for a reason, to provide programs and services for the collective good of society and to meet public needs. It is not a pot to help private investments become more profitable. Katz will do very well to create a Canadian corporation similar to AEG and he will make a lot of money off of it – he doesn’t need our help doing it.I am all in favour of the Edmonton Arena District, its ability to improve downtown and the positive impact it will have on the city. But let’s get it done without public investment.