Today the media and public gathered at Edmonton City Hall for a significant announcement regarding the new downtown arena; Rogers Place. Mayor Don Iveson and Oilers Owner Daryl Katz were on hand as it was announced to the public that the downtown arena project has been given the green light to begin construction next month and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.
“We set out on this journey over six years ago because Edmonton needed a new arena,” Katz said. “Rexall Place has served our city and our team well for over 40 years, but its time had come. The people of Edmonton deserved a new and better experience and our team required a modern facility that could sustain a NHL franchise for the very, very long term. With today’s ceremony, we are marking the accomplishment of those two vitally important goals. But there was always something else, even way back then. That was the opportunity to use the city’s need for a new arena as a catalyst to help transform our downtown into the vibrant, dynamic and diverse community that is the hallmark of every great city.”
The City of Edmonton and the Katz Group announced that the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of $480 million has been met. With the hurdle of acquiring the proper funding out of the way, construction can officially begin.
“It’s spectacular,” Oilers President and COO Patrick LaForge said. “There’s so many more drawings and so many more great pictures of what will happen. But these are pretty phenomenal and for me, I grew up here too. It’s really exciting too. This is exactly the dream somebody had. I didn’t have this dream, in this detail, but watching it come together is fantastic.”
Edmonton City Manager Simon Farbrother said, “With this announcement, we are able to announce two very significant goals for this city. The first one this does is helps us on that continued journey of building a great downtown. The second one it does is it supports NHL hockey in Edmonton for the very foreseeable future.”
As Farbrother indicated, along with securing and stabilizing professional hockey in Edmonton for many years to come, the benefits to this project are invaluable to the city itself and its transformative downtown.
“This plan included a series of catalysts and projects that together will revitalize the core of our city and build a town that is vibrant and sustainable, well designed and accessible,” Mayor Iveson said. “The downtown arena and entertainment centre was one of those initiatives. While it alone will not change our downtown, it is a foundational part of that transformation.”
Iveson went on to talk about Roger Place’s impact on the local community and how it will stimulate growth and develop an identity for a city on the rise.
“It will build a vibrancy in our downtown that does not exist today but is starting to take off. This project will lift it to new heights by bringing more people downtown, year round. Edmontonians can extend their downtown weekday by attending a concert or hockey game or dining at many new outlets that are popping up in eager anticipation of this project. It will draw more citizens into the core, who want to live close to the action, and it will bring more people downtown as businesses chose to locate, or relocate, in our downtown.”
The economic stimulus of the new arena will show results outside of ticket sales.
“In rough terms, an active arena should draw 2-3 million more people a year into downtown and attract them to stay, shop, dine, dance, attend events and park, linger, pick up your friends, hangout, all of those things that our city has never seen that kind of activity in its city centre,” LaForge commented. “It’s got a lot of magnet associated with it. I can’t dimensionalize that, but 2 million, 2.5 million shopping every year? Incredible. Incredible.”
Katz took the podium at the press conference as well and discussed how the greater plan with the arena was not centred around the Oilers. The city’s future and improvement was always at the forefront of the project.
“Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the Oilers and I’m very proud to own the team, even now. But it was the opportunity to do something great for our city that has motivated and inspired me from day one and it starts with the arena.”
Rogers Place is reportedly set to become one of the world’s ‘leading sports and entertainment venues’. It will host ‘international-calibre concerts’ and be the home of the Edmonton Oilers. The arena will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced venues in the world.
“There is no question that the design of Rogers Place has captured the imagination and excitement of many in Edmonton and far beyond,” Iveson said. “It’s bold and innovative, just as Edmonton is and I am sure it will become an iconic building in our city.”
Katz added, “Rogers Place will be one of the most modern sports and entertainment faciltlites anywhere. It will be an iconic and beautiful building that, like a great hockey player, makes everything around it better. It will be a magnet, not just for sports but for world class entertainment, concerts and events that will enliven and enrich our city. It will bring more life, more vibrancy, more street level shops and entertainment, more amenities, more global brands, more economic activity, more nightlife, more excitement and more identity to our city.”
Iveson, Katz, the Oilers and the City of Edmonton are all unified in the belief that Rogers Place will ignite change for the betterment of Edmonton and its citizens for years to come.
“In the past I’ve said that we believe this is a once in a generation opportunity to use the arena as a catalyst for something much, much bigger and greater for the city,” Katz said. “I think you’ve seen from our team, in designing a world class arena and bringing the project in on budget, that we have everything we need to make this a success for ourselves and the city of Edmonton.”
– Chris Wescott – edmontonoilers.com