5 Reasons the Oilers Moving to Seattle Would Crush the City of Edmonton
Edmonton Oilers' owner Daryl Katz and a group of top Oilers executives were in Seattle last week on a "fact-finding" mission after Seattle City Council members approved funding towards a $490 million US arena, sparking debate as to whether or not the team would consider relocating after their current deal with the out-dated Rexall Place expires in 2014-15.
Whether or not this a pressure tactic by the billionaire owner to try and force the hand of Edmonton City Council members has yet to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that if the Oilers do not get a new stadium by the time their current deal expires, the team will almost certainly relocate.
Here are the top five reasons why the Oilers moving to Seattle would crush the City of Edmonton.
5: No Oilers Means No Downtown Community Revitalization
While the Edmonton Oilers would be the primary benefactors of a new downtown arena, the fact of the matter is that the arena was a part (a big part, mind you) of a proposed Downtown Community Revitalization initiative to try and bring some life back into the City of Edmonton's core.
Unlike most metropolitan centers, Edmonton's downtown doesn't serve as the heart of the city. The new arena district would not only provide a state-of-the-art venus for the Oilers, but would provide a shopping district, bars/restaurants as well as other attractions to help lure people into the core.
If the Oilers were to leave Edmonton, it is almost guaranteed that this revitalization project wouldn't extend further then the relocation of the Royal Alberta Museum settling into their new downtown location.
4: Loss of Revenue
In 2004, the world became aware of just how crazy Canadians can get during the Stanley Cup Playoffs when 17th Avenue in Calgary became "The Red Mile." The Edmonton Oilers then followed this up with "The Whyte Mile" during their 2006 Stanley Cup run.
On any night that the local hockey team is playing on TV, let alone playing a home game, pubs and restaurants reap the benefits.
If the current and previous NHL lockouts are any indication, establishments see huge drop-offs in weekday patrons due to the lack of hockey. If the Oilers were to leave Edmonton, this would have a major trickle down effect to all major sports-bars and local hot-spots that rely on Oilers marketing and promotions to spark some interest in clientele.
While the proposed new arena deal will see Oilers owner Daryl Katz receive most of the profits garnered at the arena, having an NHL franchise in the city generates countless numbers in many different sectors.
No team means less jobs, period.
3: Calgary Wins
If the Edmonton Oilers were to leave town, it would signify the ultimate loss to their cross-provincial rivals the Calgary Flames.
There is something in the energy and atmosphere created during "Battle of Alberta" clashes between the Oilers and the Flames that elevates the rivalry amongst one of the better ones found in the NHL.
If the Oilers leave Edmonton, Calgary is left as the lone victor.
The Flames would cement themselves as Alberta's team and would reap huge benefits if the Oilers leave town.
No matter what the final score as far as all-time victories, the mere fact that Flames were left standing would be a hard pill to swallow for Edmontonians and Oilers fans alike.
2: Identity Gone
Aside from a few die-hard Houston Oilers fans or NFL historians who remember that Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon once played for a CFL team in a northern Canadian city called Edmonton, it is the Oilers who put the city on the map.
The Oilers provide the city of Edmonton with a relevancy to the outside world, especially within the United States where, if not for the hockey team, most people probably wouldn't ever have any exposure to the city.
Edmonton would become a distant memory in the minds of hockey fans and the mainstream international media market in general.
The Oilers themselves have suffered through an image problem where hockey players didn't want to come and live in the city. Without the Oilers, this problem would transcend the hockey crowd and start affecting employment as well as potential visitors.
1: Loss of History
Wayne Gretzky—arguably the best hockey player of all-time—started his career and achieved such success as an Edmonton Oiler. It is something that Edmontonians of all ages will never forget.
Though moving the team will never change the fact that Gretzky had once played in the city or that the Oilers had been one of the best dynasties in NHL history, seeing the names and banners currently located in the rafters at Rexall in another city would be disastrous for the City of Edmonton.
The Edmonton Oilers teams of the 1980s were some of the best teams ever to take the ice in the NHL. Though times have been tough the last three years, the history behind the Oilers is undeniable.
Wayne Gretzky Drive would be one of the only signs that the Great One had ever graced this little city.