By Cam Tait – Oilers Entertainment Group
Sometimes, in one’s life, there are days you never forget.
For me, September 8, 2016 will be added to the list: the official opening of Rogers Place. As an Edmontonian, I can feel the excitement such an iconic and world class building brings to the city.
The future is, indeed, bright.
It was great to see so many people who have supported the Edmonton Oilers and the new arena project.
For me, these images and sounds will not be forgotten for a long time:
- Oilers Entertainment Group Chair Daryl Katz introducing his father, Barry and mother, Ida before he made his opening remarks to the crowd in Ford Hall. A subtle reminder of the importance of family.
- Retired Oilers superstar Wayne Gretzky walking around the concourse with his two sons, stopping to introduce them to Mayor Don Iveson, and chatting about “how great” Rogers Place is.
- Not one, but two Hogles walking through the 104 Avenue doors: Bruce and Steve. Bruce is a long-time Edmonton broadcast executive and Steve is now the president of the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League.
- Retired Edmonton Eskimos president and CEO Rick LaLachuer walked through one of the top concourses, reminiscing about a few years ago: “This building is a little different than the old Edmonton Gardens,” said Rick, who played for the Edmonton Oil Kings for two seasons starting in 1967.
- PCL Construction Chairman of the Board, Ross Grieve addressing the crowd, and mentioning that more than 9,500 people have worked on Rogers Place since the beginning of the project. But here’s the great thing: there were no serious safety incidents – an amazing feat.
- The look of pride on the face of former Edmonton Investment Group chair Cal Nichols as he looked out over the ice surface. It’s safe to say, if EIG hadn’t bought the team in the 1990’s, the team could have left Edmonton. The future could have very easily been very different.
But the future is now limitless, and it is a direct result of the passion and determination of so many people. And Thursday’s event proved it.
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