Edmonton Oilers officials took a trip to Seattle on Monday and are threatening relocation if the city of Edmonton doesn't agree to a new arena deal, but while the Seattle visit drew headlines, it may be the city who holds all of the leverage.
While the ownership group is trying to use the threat of relocation to pressure the city into a favorable new arena deal, the fact is, even without a new arena, Oilers officials likely won't be able to find a better deal than the one they currently have. Ryan Batty of The Copper & Blue detailed why it's the city and not the ownership group holding all the leverage.
The threat to move to Seattle, or any other city looking for an NHL for that matter, is an empty threat. Under the terms of the agreement that was reached between the Katz Group and the City last year Katz pays $0 towards the arena construction costs. That's not a typo, he pays nothing. His investment is a loan taken out by the City which he pays back. Katz also gets revenue from the building 48 weeks out of the year not just on hockey nights as is currently the case at Rexall. And this ignores the fact that he's already making money hand over fist in a small and outdated arena. There is no other way to put it: Katz is sitting on a gold mine in Edmonton right now.
In Seattle, or another city, the ownership group would have to pay rent and would only collect revenue on the nights when the team plays a home game. That's in addition to a likely relocation fee required to move the team. Money is often the key in these situations and even in a smaller market, it appears Edmonton can offer the most.