An Eric Fisher special feature for OEG Inc.
The story of the Edmonton Oilers, team owner Daryl Katz, and the team’s ICE District is one of bold ambition and even bolder execution.
Located in the National Hockey League’s northernmost market, the Oilers and Katz have spent the past 15 years looking to defy expectations – both locally and globally – and not only transcend their Alberta locale but help redefine the very notion of what a pro sports franchise is and can be.
“The Oilers are truly a special franchise and a special brand,” Katz said. “People even in other markets can see it and feel it, and it now goes well beyond just hockey.”
Looking around downtown Edmonton, much of that ambition and execution is on full display. The team’s former Northlands Coliseum has been replaced by the gleaming, CDN $483.5 million Rogers Place, which opened in 2016, and an adjacent 25-acre, mixed-use development. The CDN $2.5 billion ICE District, located on what was then-moribund surface parking in a struggling downtown Edmonton, has rapidly injected a new sense of life and vitality into the city and includes the Stantec Tower, a 68-story skyscraper that is Canada’s largest building west of Toronto, and a major JW Marriott hotel.
The ICE District also has been recently buttressed by the opening of Fan Park, a multiuse public space featuring year-round community and entertainment programming.
“We built in five years what they built at LA Live [in Los Angeles] in 20 years,” Katz said. “Not only has the project worked, but it’s served as a model for how the public and private sectors can cooperate for mutual benefit and revitalize a downtown core.”
And now Katz is looking to move that ambition and execution into the next phases of ICE District that will add another 12 acres of development to Downtown Edmonton, including a residential “urban village” to the north of Rogers Place…