VENUES TODAY: Rogers Place Development

By Matthew Coller – VENUES TODAY

Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta, is shaped like an oil drop and surrounded by downtown destination development.

For a few months, a green sign with the words “PCL Construction” was set up in the middle of a large dirt patch in downtown Edmonton, Alberta.

Within a year, the shape of an ice rink will be where the sign was. And by the National Hockey League’s opening night in 2016, the dirt patch will be Rogers Place, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers.

In March, the Katz Group, which owns the Oilers, and the city broke ground on the $480-million arena. Less than six months after digging into downtown, construction crews have completely excavated the area at a pace of around 300 trucks of dirt per day. Soon, Oilers fans will be able to see the skeleton of the unique oil drop shape, designed to represent the area’s connection to the oil industry and form a walkway connecting to a Light Rail station.

“The structure will be enclosed by fall of next year and the marvelous form of the external architecture will be very apparent,” said Bob Black, executive vice president of Edmonton Arena Corp and the Katz Group.

The 360 Architecture-designed venue will be approximately 820,000 square feet, nearly 300,000 more than the Oilers’ previous home of Rexall Place. The arena project includes an additional $120-million investment to create a larger complex, highlighted by a climate-controlled “Winter Garden” that will cost approximately $56.5 million as well as a $23-million community rink.

PCL Construction currently has concrete on the event level nearly finished. Heading into the harsh winter months, they will have giant cranes on site in early September to put approximately 9,000 tons of structural steel in place.

On Aug. 28, Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz announced that a 62-story office and residential tower and future consulting company Stantec’s headquarters will be built as part of a “mega-development,” which, including the arena, will cost a total of $2.6 billion. The development will transform four million square feet of parking lots into what Katz called the “largest mixed-use sports and entertainment project in Canada.”

Katz Group worked with AEG to produce the plan. Within the next six months, there will be more than $1.5 billion in projects underway.

Aside from the tower, there will be a 55,000-60,000-square-foot casino to the East of the arena that will serve as offices for the Oilers and Katz Group and include a practice rink. Another 27-story building is on its way as are hotel, retail and consumer options and upgrades to public transportation.

“There was some skepticism about the funding and if the money would come from new development, said Rick Daviss, City of Edmonton’s executive director of the downtown arena project and sustainable development.

Estimates via Oilers Vice President of Communication Tim Shipton are that the Katz Group is expecting around 4 million visitors to arena area and other businesses.

Daviss said the current roads and transit are sufficient for people to easily live and visit the area because of accessible roads, parking and seven LRT stops within walking distance of the arena.

“One of the reasons we wanted to have it downtown as opposed to a suburban area is because of the infrastructure,” Daviss said.

As construction continues, the Katz Group and the city are working to limit the amount of inconvenience to the area.

Despite the mass construction, the Katz Group said it is focusing on being as environmentally friendly as possible by recycling 97 percent of construction waste.

“It is not a small challenge,” Black said. “But we are going to be only the second NHL facility to be LEED certified and the first in Canada.”

The city mandated that all buildings must receive at least LEED-Silver status, the second best of four ratings with Platinum being the highest for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation.

Black said construction has not encountered any setbacks thus far. By spring, there is expected to be around 500 workers on site daily as they take on the interior, which will include room for just over 18,500 fans for hockey and 20,734 for concerts. There will also be 56 suites, 24 mini suites and one concession point-of-sale for every 88 spectators.

The exterior of Rogers Place is scheduled to be finished by the summer of 2015. Doors will open when the first puck drops on the 2016-17 NHL season.

The Edmonton Arena District is looking to complete construction on around 2.6 million square feet of additional development by 2019.