On Saturday, Daryl Katz paid for full-page ads in the Edmonton newspapers to apologize for his handling of the arena controversy. My sources deep within the Katz Group (a pharmacist I know at a Rexall Drugs) had access to the first draft of the apology letter, written by Katz himself. Boldface portions were removed before the ad went to press, on the advice of his new public relations firm, McMann and Tate. Here it is:
The people of Edmonton, Northern Alberta, half of Red Deer, and Oiler Fans Everywhere, Except The Ones Who Only Watch the Oilers on TV and Never Go to Games,
I owe you an explanation.
I was upset when certain confidential information was leaked and by comments that I thought were unfair and called in integrity into question. When I told city council that I wanted access to lottery money, it was supposed to be just between me and the members of city council. I thought there was no way that a bunch of politicians would leak confidential information to the media! Boy, was I wrong.
I reacted by trying to send a message to City leaders that they should not take my support for a new arena for granted. I was really pisssed. My buddies Bob and Steve and Pat all said, “Hey, let’s go to Seattle and walk around that rotting old arena they have and pretend we’re interested in moving the Oilers there! And make sure someone in the Seattle media knows about it, so it will get maximum exposure. “ So I thought, well, these guys are smart, they understand the community. Sounds like a great idea. So, I booked a flight to Seattle with the guys (why do I always pay?) and the media took the bait. That’ll learn ‘em, I thought.
Well, I got roasted. In doing this, I took for granted your support and love for the Oilers.Turns out, people are not quite as stupid as I was led to believe.
That was wrong, and I apologize. OK, happy now, everyone? I SAID I was sorry.
The best I can say is that I did it because I’m fighting for a deal that will enable the team to stay in Edmonton — and not because I want them anywhere else. And, or course, I want to make lots and lots of money, on top of the pile of money I already make on the Oilers. How do you think I became a billionaire?
That’s why I bought the Oilers in the first place. That, and because I can, because I’m rich, rich RICH! Because I want the NHL to be sustainable in Edmonton for the long-term, and because I saw the city’s need for a new arena as an opportunity to transform our city, and my bank balance, for the better.
In hindsight, I have underestimated the degree to which it would be up to us to make the case for public funding. I thought, c’mon, it’s the Oilers here. We do whatever we like all the time. Why should this be any different?
As I think you all know by now, public communications is not in my nature. Chalk that up as a personal shortcoming. That, and I was too cheap to hire a half-way decent public relations firm.
We are continuing to work with the City Administration to forge a win-win partnership that will benefit our city and that we can all be proud of. I just want to win a little more, that’s all. Is that so bad?