The Edmonton Oilers are in the process of creating a two billion dollar (C) arena-led mixed-use entertainment project in downtown Edmonton, on a 20-acre site where an old casino once stood. We were fortunate enough to conduct all the market and financial feasibility studies for the project, which include a practice arena, retail/dining/entertainment, several hotels, office, casino, convention center, meeting spaces, housing, university, and cultural uses. In September 2016, the first phase of the project opened, presenting the arena and a glass-enclosed winter garden plaza.
One of the most contentious issues was who would pay for which part of the project since Alberta (and most of Canada) had no precedent for municipal participation in funding an expensive, state-of-the-art, mixed-use, sports-entertainment district. Negotiation on these points went on from 2009 to 2013, when the City and the Katz organization came to a mutually agreed upon solution.
Besides testing the market and financial feasibility, we also completed a warranted investment analysis that quantified the shortfall in revenue to attain an industry-standard rate of return on the investment. The exercise was extremely complicated with the many uses being tested, the multiple ownership formats suggested, the non-profit elements blended together with the commercial elements, and the fact that there were no Tax Increment Financing instruments in place in the province.
Fast forward seven years to 2016, and the new “Rogers Place” opened in September 2016 to great fanfare carrying a total construction cost of C$604,500,000. The specifics of the deal are precedent-setting in terms of public support for a private sports enterprise. Sources of funds are as follows:
- City-Issued Debt: C$541,810,000 (90%)
- Government Funds (Non-City): C$39,000,000 ( 6%)
- Oilers Contribution: C$23,690,000 (4%)
Phase One terms are summarized as follows:
- Owner: City of Edmonton
- Lessee: Edmonton Oilers
- Operator: Edmonton Oilers
- Lease Term: 35 years (with three 10-year lease options)
- Oilers – Manage arena operations, receive all arena revenues & pay for arena operations/maintenance
- Oilers operating revenues include naming rights and parking revenues
The Oilers received the right to levy a Ticket Surcharge (with a portion going towards debt service and capital reserve). Other Key Terms are as follows:
- Team will pay annual lease payment of approximately C$6.7 Million
- Approximately C$6.1 Million per year in Ticket Surcharge fees will go towards debt service
- City will pay the Oilers C$2 Million annually for 10 years to help market/promote the City
- Total project also includes City amenities (winter garden, community ice rink, etc.)
- City will have up to 28 days a year of free arena access for community events
The Annual Debt Service Payment of almost $32 million will be generated from the following sources:
- City – Downtown Tax Increment: C$13,122,554
- City – Other Public Sources: C$5,275,399
- Oilers Lease Payments: C$6,697,157
- Ticket Surcharge Revenue: C$6,074,629
With the attendance and revenue generated since opening, these targets are very likely to be reached.
Voila, a new model for building and financing a $600 million arena is born!