by Terry Jones, Edmonton Sun
The first thing that you’ll see when you look inside Rogers Place will be the scoreboard.
There will be wow factors in dozens of different directions. But it will be hard to miss the big wow in the centre of the building.
It will be THE scoreboard in the National Hockey League.
That title currently belongs to the one in Denver.
“It’s Denver plus,” said Bob Black, executive vice-president of Katz Group.
“The difference between this board and Denver is that this is a cube as opposed to the rectangle they have in Denver. This board is bigger than they have in Denver. And it’s about five times as big, in terms of video area, as the board they currently have at Rexall Place.
“Denver has high resolution for the sides but the image on the end is smaller and not high definition.”
The next thing you’ll see is the seats. In Rexall Place they are 17-19 inches wide. In Rogers Place, they’ll be 19-22 inches wide.
On the mezzanine level are areas for club patrons.
“Just as we have the River Cree Club at Rexall Place, we have created clubs on both the north side and the south side of the building that will service the population in the lower bowl,” said Black.
To access the clubs you go up instead of down to event level. And you don’t have to take the stairs.
There’s 15 elevators in the building. And 15 escalators.
“We are anticipating that somewhere in the order of 70% to 75% of the population will enter through the Winter Garden, that they’ll come from the downtown core and enter through the Winter Garden,” said Rick Daviss, executive director of the arena district project for the City.
“What we’ve done on the main concourse is create a much more generous circulation area than currently exists at Rexall Place. There aren’t the kind of pinch points that we get in the current facility,” said Black.
“The other things we wanted to ensure is that at all levels of the building we created food and beverage locations where you had a view into the bowl, where you could sit down or stand and have the social opportunities to mix and mingle,” added Black.
“Another feature is the windows in the building, windows which go all the way around. The main concourse and the upper concourse both have glass,” said Davis.
Up another level is the suite level.
“Unlike the current building, where the suites are at the top of the lower bowl, the suites are above the main concourse. But they are cantilevered out so that the suites project out over the bowl below to bring them closer to the ice.”
Nobody is going to jump up in front of you when something exciting happens.
The suites are deeper and much better appointed.
“Because Edmonton’s marketplace is basically small-to medium-size corporations, there’s real market for a four-to six-seat product. Instead of having part ownership of a big suite where you might have 10 games a year, you would have full ownership of a smaller premium product.”
Go up to the loge level and there are three tiers, first a drink rail with chairs on casters, then two levels of half-moon tables with bar stools, all available as season tickets. There’s 1,100 seats there and it says here those might be the first spots in the building to go.
“They’ll have the feeling of being in a sports bar, except that you can see the ice to see the game live and in person,” said Black.
Finally, there’s the upper concourse.
“Many arenas have a design where the top of the seats is right at an end wall and you enter below and you walk up to your seats. We wanted to create a design where we had a separate concourse at the top of the building and people go down to their seats,” said Daviss.
“We didn’t want the people in the upper bowl to have a lesser level of service in the food and beverage and washroom facilities. And again we’ve set it up so that there are areas of neighborhoods around that concourse,” said Black.
“It was really Daryl Katz vision that every fan would have that premium experience, not just the lower bowl,” said Daviss.