An arena for the ages

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t had much to brag about in recent years. But that should change next year, when the NHL team moves from tired Rexall Place to shimmering Rogers Place Arena.

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t had much to brag about in recent years. But that should change next year, when the NHL team moves from tired Rexall Place to shimmering Rogers Place Arena.

“The facilities are going to be phenomenal; it’ll be world class in every way,” said Patrick LaForge, president and chief operating officer of the Oilers Entertainment Group.

“The arena will be the most iconic of its kind in North America for many years.”

LaForge described Edmonton’s arena project during a presentation at a Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday.

Clad in stainless steel, Rogers Place Arena will have seating for 18,600 and standing room for another 1,500. That compares with Rexall Place’s 16,700 seats, but more impressive is the fact the arena’s size will be about 850,000 square feet, up from the current 421,000 square feet.

LaForge explained that Rogers Place will have a much more open layout, as well as clear sight lines from every seat. There will be private viewing suites, including “opera style” boxes, “loge tables” that overlook the ice surface from the upper levels, and an after-hours nightclub.

The new arena is just one component of the Edmonton Arena District project, he pointed out. Also planned is an adjacent community arena where members of the public will have access to free skating, equipment and even lessons.

Nearby will be a public gathering area, the 63-storey Stantec building, a Delta hotel, and retail and residential areas. There will be some 8,000 parking stalls, including many underground — about double the number serving Rexall Place.

In addition to movie theatres, a massive video screen, a permanent sound stage and scheduled activities, the district will boast a casino and other amenities, said LaForge. The arena itself is expected to draw two million people a year downtown, with these supporting the hotels, restaurants and retailers there.

Many Albertans will see the district as an alternative to Las Vegas when it comes to recreational getaways, he said.

The Delta hotel is expected to open in the spring of 2017 and the Stantec building in the fall of 2018. The entire build-out should be completed by 2019, said LaForge.

Edmonton Arena District will cover about 25 acres, with about eight additional acres nearby earmarked for future development.

“The city is now looking at a projection of about 30,000 people to live in the city centre by 2030, where we had 5,000 in 2009,” said LaForge.

He said the development was made possible by Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz, who was willing to use his NHL team to leverage the downtown project. Katz has about $1.6 billion of his own money committed, pointed out LaForge.

“The risk involved in it is significant,” he said of Katz’s exposure. “The faith in the idea is unbelievable.”

LaForge, who has been with the Oilers organization since 2000, is an alternate NHL governor and a WHL governor.

A former chairman of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, he praised the chamber movement generally and urged local members to speak out on issues like the need for poil and gas pipelines to export markets.

“I have two prayers: one to take care of my kids and the other one is, give us a pipeline. All chambers should be involved in that discussion.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta is on pace to administer more than 300,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses per week, according to the provincial government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
One million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Alberta

Alberta hit a milestone in the fight against COVID-19 this week. As… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Interior work will start this year on Red Deer hospital project, says infrastructure minister

‘We are committed. This is a top priority,’ says Presad Panda

Even with recent restrictions due to rising COVID-19 variant case levels, about 95 per cent of businesses are open in Alberta, said Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Consistent pandemic policy has helped Alberta, premier says

Alberta fatality rate lower than Canadian average

Richie Laryea of Toronto FC, left, and Jean Meneses of Mexico's Leon battle for the ball during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, in Leon, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Toronto FC hosts Club Leon in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie holding a valuable away goal after a 1-1 draw last week in Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mario Armas
Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Winnipeg Jets' Dylan DeMelo (2) skates the puck around Ottawa Senators' Thomas Chabot (72) as he holds off Winnipeg Jets' Mason Appleton (22) during first-period NHL action in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Jarrell Brantley (5) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Salt Lake City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer
Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh speaks during a news conference in Lethbridge, Alta., on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Rossiter
‘Right path:’ Lethbridge police release improvement plan in wake of controversies

‘Right path:’ Lethbridge police release improvement plan in wake of controversies

Most Read