Oilers Eyeing Toronto Venues

The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers have been pushing for a new arena since last year but some recent dealings by team owner Daryl Katz could be seen as more of a shove to some in the Canadian city.

Katz Entertainment Holdings Corporation has reportedly entered negotiations with officials across the country in Hamilton, near Toronto, to take over operations at a handful of venues.

The deal could include Copps Coliseum, a new stadium for the 2015 Pan American Games, the Hamilton Convention Centre and Hamilton Place Theatre, the Edmonton Journal reported. A lease agreement could be presented to the city council by Sept. 1.

Apparently, Katz has an itch to expand into the sports and entertainment venue management biz, and the pending agreement with Hamilton – a city that has shown a strong interest in securing an NHL team of its own – doesn’t have anything to do with the ongoing venue discussions in Edmonton.

“It is [crappy] timing, maybe, in some people’s eyes, and it does cause some thought in that direction,” Oilers president Patrick LaForge told the Journal. “But it is what it is. This is not about the Oilers. I don’t know if I can say it any more clearly.”

Katz Group, which previously announced AEG Development as its partner in the Edmonton venture, is scheduled to meet with officials to talk arena plans July 21.

City councilor Ben Henderson said he doesn’t necessarily see the Hamilton deal as a ploy by Katz and hopes to still engage in a constructive dialogue about possibilities for a new arena.

“If this is intended to put up a cloud of threat over the city, I don’t think that creates healthy discussion,” he told the paper. “I don’t think that creates healthy conversation. We’ve been down that road before and I would argue it didn’t end well.”