The Edmonton Oilers bid farewell to Rexall Place

Tonight the Edmonton Oilers played their final game in the building they have called home since 1974. Though its future remains uncertain, Rexall Place has been an important part of Edmonton for more than 40 years.

Farewell Rexall Place

The subject of its own, drawn out arena debate, Rexall Place was eventually built in the early 1970s. It opened on November 10, 1974 and the Oilers played their first game in the building that night. They won that game over the Cleveland Crusaders by a score of 4-1. For more on the history of Rexall Place, check out this great deep dive from David Staples.

Farewell Rexall Place

In addition to tonight’s celebrations at the building itself, the Oilers and the City held a rally in Churchill Square today. All former Oilers were invited to attend, and more than 100 did. The event was hosted by City Manager Linda Cochrane and was a nice opportunity for fans to join with the Oilers to say thanks to Rexall Place.

Farewell Rexall Place

Mayor Don Iveson, Jason Strudwick, Ryan Smyth, and Mark Messier all shared a few memories and tributes to Rexall Place.

Mark Messier

I thought it was very fitting that the crowd did the wave today at the rally given that Rexall Place is the venue in which the wave was perfected.

The Oilers have been preparing for this all season long, of course. Here’s what they had to say about leaving the building earlier today:

“Hours before opening faceoff, media members and arena workers flooded the halls, snapping photos of the old barn. The current players laughed at the fond memories of their home building, while lamenting missed opportunities in recent seasons. The alumni shared stories with the media and with each other, some serious and others hilarious tellings of locker room happenings. The mood at Rexall Place’s final pre-game morning was more joyful and reminiscent than sad, but it is sure to be an emotional evening of goodbyes for all those with ties to a historic venue.”

You can see the pre-game, in-game, and post-game videos and other media here.

Farewell Rexall Place

Northlands itself also had some positive things to say about the building today:

“On behalf of our board, staff and volunteers we want to thank the Edmonton Oilers for an amazing partnership,” said Tim Reid, Northlands President and CEO.

They also pointed out that while the Oilers won’t be playing at Rexall Place anymore, there are still other events on the schedule including the 2017 Ford World Men’s Curling Championships next April which is the final qualifying event for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. But for pro hockey at least, tonight was the end.

Oilers Superfan

For the current team, next season and the brand new Rogers Place can’t come soon enough. It hasn’t been a great season, but at least they ended on a high note tonight with a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

You can see more photos from the lunch time rally here.

High Street Lawsuit, Glen Sather Arena, Adult Colouring Book Nights

Here’s the latest entry in my Edmonton Etcetera series, in which I share some thoughts on a few topical items in one post. Less than I’d write in a full post on each, but more than I’d include in Edmonton Notes. Have feedback? Let me know!

High Street going to court over the 102 Avenue Bridge

Springwood Developments, the company that owns High Street, is planning to file suit against the City of Edmonton and Graham Construction over the 102 Avenue Bridge project. They’re seeking damages for all tenants for sales lost between October 1, which is roughly when the bridge was supposed to open, and the date the bridge eventually opens, currently expected to be Fall 2016.

I’m no lawyer, but after looking at the Municipal Government Act (specifically sections 23, 25, 534) and looking through past Council decisions on similar matters, I can’t really see how such a lawsuit could be successful. Municipalities generally cannot be held liable for this sort of thing unless they were extremely negligent, and there’s no evidence to suggest the City of Edmonton was. Furthermore, the “injurious affection” they’re probably going to cite must result in a “permanent reduction” in the value of appraised land in order for a claim to be available.

102 ave bridge girders
Photo by SphinxTerrific

Apparently the City of Edmonton has been receiving $11,500 a day in penalties from the contractor to compensate for not opening on time, and many feel that at least some of those funds should go to the businesses affected. But I agree with Councillor McKeen, who called that “a pandora’s box”. It’s not a precedent the City should be setting.

This isn’t the first time that Council has had to deal with the suggestion either. Back in April 2013, Council denied a request for partial tax cancellation for a convenience store and tailor shop affected by the Central LRT Station renovations. In that case the owner was seeking a 70% tax reduction, which would have only amounted to $742.77, but Council agreed with Administration that granting the request “would create a precedent for future requests.”

I personally think the City is already walking a fine line in supporting the Cash Mob that will take place in the 124 Street area tomorrow. In addition to Mayor Iveson and Councillor McKeen’s attendance, the City is running Park & Ride service from Hawrelak Park and Stadium. It’s great to show support, but at what point does it become perceived as an admission of guilt?

Not to mention that I find the hyperbole around the Cash Mob a bit off-putting. News releases about the event have consistently said that “businesses may not survive the winter” and one even said “this may literally be the last chance to help these businesses stay afloat”. I don’t think that’s helping the situation, and may in fact be feeding growing skepticism about the impact of the bridge on the businesses.

I’m reminded a bit of You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and her character’s independent book store, The Shop Around the Corner. Facing the prospect of closing, a media campaign is launched to “save the shop around the corner!” But it doesn’t work. “Don’t tell me. Not the slightest difference?” exclaims Kathleen Kelly. “How can that be? All this publicity and not one bit of difference?”

To be clear, I think what organizer Tommy Kalita has done with Cash Mobs in Edmonton is fantastic and I have no doubt he’ll continue to have a positive impact on our community in the future. And both Sharon and I are fans of many of the businesses in the area and have and will continue to spend money there. It would indeed be sad to see the independent shops go. But if they do, should all the blame fall to the bridge? No, I don’t think it should.

Glen Sather Day in Edmonton

The architect of the Oilers dynasty, Glen Sather, is being recognized in Edmonton tonight with a banner raising ceremony at Rexall Place before the Oilers take on the New York Rangers. Mayor Don Iveson proclaimed today Glen Sather Day, and Daryl Katz announced a million dollar donation to the community arena which will now be named in Sather’s honor.

“To do this in Glen’s name is fitting and it’ll serve as a lasting tribute to his tremendous legacy in Oil Country,” said Bob Nicholson, the head of the Oilers Entertainment Group.

The money donated by the Oilers Community Foundation and Katz Family will be used to create a fund “to have programs for all the underprivileged kids so that hockey continues to grow in this city,” said Nicholson. “We’ll make sure that kids from all parts of this city get to use this community rink.”

The name “Downtown Community Arena” was given to the rink back at the January meeting of the Edmonton Naming Committee. If that sounds like a placeholder name, that’s because it likely was. With a high profile building like this, it’s not surprising that naming rights would be up for grabs.

The City will own and operate the community arena, and all revenues and costs will go to the City. The originally estimated cost to build the community arena was $23 million, with $14 million to come from the Federal and Provincial governments, $7 million to come from the Downtown CRL, and $2 million to come from MacEwan University. But now the bulk of the cost is going to be covered by the CRL, with $7 million coming from the Federal government.

Adult Colouring Book Nights at EPL

Colouring books for adults are all the rage right now. Walk into nearly any book store or gift shop and you’ll see them. They’re regularly in Amazon’s list of best selling books. I haven’t gotten into the trend myself, maybe because every time I flip through one I get overwhelmed just thinking about colouring the large, complex scenes! But plenty of people enjoy the activity and have even been bringing their own colouring books into the library, which is why EPL decided to host an event for adults to colour together:

“One of our goals is just to create fun program and connect people in our space,” said Stanley Milner associate manager Kate Gibson. “It’s a chance to take a break from the stress of life and relax, and come in and just calm down for a bit.”

For now it’s only happening at Stanley Milner downtown, but it could expand to other branches if it proves popular enough. The next event is slated to take place on December 21 at 7pm in the program room on the main floor.

Sharon pointed out to me that this isn’t the first event for colouring books in Edmonton. Audrey’s has hosted some very popular all-ages colouring parties this year. Who knew?!

The Edmonton Oilers look to gain an edge with analytics & hackathons

The Edmonton Oilers are mining for gold, and they want you to help them do it.

Last Thursday they launched the Oilers Hackathon 2.0, an analytics competition that hopes to harness the collective intelligence and passion of Oilers fans to surface valuable information that could ultimately help to improve the team.

The Oilers challenge for Oil Country in the newly launched Hackathon 2.0 is to conjure up the proper methodology to solve one of four questions the team’s analytics group has created. Naturally you’ll need the statistical information to back-up your formula and that’s why the Oilers are opening their information vault to anyone with an analytical mind and a love of hockey.

The hackathon is a great opportunity for math-geeks-slash-hockey-fans to engage with the team in a different way. But as Kevin Lowe told me when we discussed the competition, it’s also a recognition that having data is just part of the puzzle. “It’s all find and dandy to have the data, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” The Oilers no doubt have some ideas about what to do with it, but they know others do as well.

oilers hackathon

This idea of tapping into the “wisdom of the crowd” is hardly new, and one of my favorite stories on the topic comes from Don Tapscott’s book Wikinomics. In the first chapter, he tells the story of Goldcorp Inc. and the decision by its CEO Rob McEwan to tap into the expertise outside his organization. McEwan told his head geologist the idea: “I’d like to take all of our geology, all the data we have that goes back to 1948, and put it into a file and share it with the world. Then we’ll ask the world to tell us where we’re going to find the next six million ounces of gold.”

It was a gamble, but with the company struggling McEwan was determined to try something different. The “Goldcorp Challenge” was launched in March 2000 with $575,000 in prize money available. The contest was a big success, as Tapscott explained. “Not only did the contest yield copious quantities of gold, it catapulted his underperforming $100 million company into a $9 billion juggernaut while transforming a backward mining site in Northern Ontario into one of the most innovative and profitable properties in the industry,” he wrote.

The use of statistical analysis in sports is not new either, and thanks to Moneyball many people have at least heard about analytics being applied to baseball. Though he is most often associated with politics these days, New York Times writer Nate Silver actually got his start with baseball. “I have been a fan of baseball – and baseball statistics – for as long as I can remember,” he wrote in his book The Signal and the Noise. He started creating statistics for the game when he was just twelve, and while working at KPMG he created PECOTA, a forecasting system for baseball player performance. There are good reasons that baseball has been at the forefront of analytics, as Silver explains:

“Baseball offers perhaps the world’s richest data set: pretty much everything that has happened on a major-league playing field in the past 140 years has been dutifully and accurately recorded, and hundreds of players play in the big leads every year.”

While baseball is a team sport, it is unlike hockey or basketball or most other team sports in that it proceeds in a linear fashion. You could argue that a batter or pitcher in baseball is more responsible for his or her own performance than a forward is in hockey. It’s therefore a little easier to test empirically a hypothesis in baseball than it is in hockey.

Still, that hasn’t deterred NHL teams from delving into the world of analytics (though there have certainly been ups and downs over the years). David Staples, a guest of the Oilers Analytics Working Group (AWG), wrote about its creation back in March:

Some pro hockey bosses have little time for “Moneypuck,” the notion that NHL teams can use advanced statistics to gain an advantage. Others are more open to this cutting edge work. But there’s no doubt that interest in the field is exploding.

The Oilers formed the AWG a little over a year ago as a result of an advisory group on analytics coordinated by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension. Members of the AWG include Kevin Lowe, Nick Wilson, and a number of other members of the Oilers operations team, Cult of Hockey blogger Bruce McCurdy, University of Alberta professors Corey Wentzell and Bruce Matichuk, AICML’s Randy Goebel, and Daniel Haight of Darkhorse Analytics. The group meets monthly, though someone is looking at the data almost every day. The Oilers have purchased reports and other sources of data in the past, but with the AWG, they’re considering data and analytics more aggressively. They see hackathons as a key way to extract value from all of the data.

The Hackathon 2.0 offers anyone who is interested the chance to delve into more than 1 GB of CSV data going all the way back to 1918. That’s 1 GB of pure text, roughly equivalent to 1000 thick books, and much more than was available during the first hackathon. For a data geek like myself, it’s pretty exciting. Hardcore hockey fans also seem to like the idea. “This is entirely fascinating. I cannot believe it’s really happening,” wrote Justin Bourne on theScore’s blog. Some have even started analyzing the data. Not everyone is as optimistic, however. Well-known Oilers blogger Tyler Dellow wrote, “while I applaud the effort, I’m not really sure that I think they’re going to get a whole lot that’s useful out of it.”

My sense after talking to Kevin Lowe and Nick Wilson about the hackathon is that they are realistic about the potential for data analytics. “It’s about knowing where to spend your time and resources,” Kevin said. “The findings are not earth shattering, but it’s a little bit of knowledge that you can hand over to the coach that at the right moment he can use, or so that he has more confidence in his decisions.” Nick agreed. “It’s a two or three percent contribution, like everything else.”

That said, there is some optimism that a fan will come up with something the Oilers just haven’t thought of, with some nugget of gold. “What’s unique about math applied to sports is the undiscovered, the lingering moneyball,” Nick said. “There’s incredible fans, incredible intelligence in this city,” Kevin agreed.

A total of 400 entrants had registered for the hackathon as of this morning. If you want to participate, you’d better move quickly – the deadline to register is tomorrow. After filling out the form, you’ll receive an email with a link to download the data. From there you’ll have until February 15 to submit your methodology for answering four challenges set forth by the Oilers AWG. You can see the full contest details here.

If you don’t get the opportunity to participate this time, don’t worry, the Oilers are keen to do additional hackathons in the future. “It’s not a one-off, and we definitely want to do more,” Nick told me. That’s probably a good strategy, given that new data is available all the time. As technology improves, you can imagine all sorts of new statistics being tracked. For example, cameras could help to track the number of strides a player takes per shift, or the number of times he pivots on the ice.

I’m planning to participate in the hackathon, though for me it’ll be more for fun than anything. I have already enlisted the help of my Dad who is a much bigger hockey fan than I am, based on some advice from Nate Silver: “Statistical inferences are much stronger when backed up by theory or at least some deeper thinking about their root causes.” In other words, it helps to know a thing or two about hockey!

Edmonton benefits from seconded Oilers employees during the lockout

oilersThe players and the owners get the spotlight whenever the NHL lockout is discussed, but the lack of hockey affects many more people than that. At many teams, the employees that run the organization have been laid off or have had to take pay cuts due to the lack of revenue coming in. But for many of the Oilers staff, secondment to other organizations throughout the city has been a welcome alternative.

“Our biggest and most valuable asset is the people we have recruited and trained,” Oilers President & COO Patrick LaForge told me. “The worst thing you can do is lay people off.” He knows it is not only difficult for the employees, who would have to go out and find new jobs and deal with everything that goes along with that, but also for the Oilers who will still need talented people once the lockout ends.

The Oilers have done two key things to retain staff during the lockout. The first is that the senior executives all took a sizable pay cut, and the difference is used to ensure that all employees who make less than a certain amount of money per year still earn 100% of their salaries. That leaves the folks in the middle, and that’s where the secondment idea comes in. During the last lockout in 2004, a few Oilers employees found temporary homes at other organizations. One of the employees had a connection with the company that suggested the secondment, and the Oilers decided to give it a shot. “This time, everyone was prepared,” Patrick said.

The Oilers currently have 22 employees seconded to other organizations in Edmonton (that’s about 30% of the folks in the middle). Pennock Acheson Nielsen Devaney took six accountants on board, and other employees have gone to Body by Bennett, the Winspear Centre (including Tony Bao, who the Journal and Sun both wrote about), Williams Engineering, West Edmonton Mall, and a number of other local companies and non-profits. The employees stay on the Oilers payroll, earn their full salaries, and retain all of their benefits, and the Oilers simply invoice the companies for part of the employee’s salary. Most employees have two week notice periods with their temporary employers, so if the lockout were to end the Oilers could be back up and running at full capacity in short order.

Regardless of what happens with the lockout, the employees will likely be back with the Oilers full-time in February as the organization ramps up to sell season tickets for the 2013-2014 campaign. But that may not be the end of the secondments; Patrick indicated that the Oilers may explore the idea for the summer too.

There’s a risk that the Oilers will lose some of these people, but it doesn’t seem likely. “It’s about good commerce in the city,” Patrick told me. It certainly does seem like a win-win-win. The employees get to keep their jobs and paychecks, and they’ll be exposed to new ideas and approaches along the way. The employers get to take advantage of some talented individuals, which is a big deal in Edmonton’s tight labour market (it took just ten days to place the 22 individuals). And the Oilers get to retain their employees and will likely experience a jolt of energy and fresh ideas when they all return.

Actually, they’re probably experiencing that already. Every two weeks the team gets together to swap stories and to share the things they have learned. “Having a culture where everyone is learning is important”, Patrick said. While I’m sure the Oilers would rather be in the middle of a season right now, the opportunity for employees to learn new things from other local organizations probably isn’t such a bad thing.

Could this happen in other cities? Sure, but it’s no surprise that it’s happening here. As Todd wrote, Edmonton is “an unusually open city: open to ideas and open to change.” There’s a spirit of collaboration that makes partnerships like the ones the Oilers have forged possible.

Canada Celebrates in Edmonton

Last night was the Canada Celebrates event at Commonwealth Stadium here in Edmonton. Or at least that’s what the ticket said. There wasn’t much promotion in advance, but what few things I did see tended to call it “For the Love of Country and For the Love of Hockey”. Whatever it was called, the nationally televised event was an opportunity to pay tribute to our Olympic heroes, as well as our heroes in the Canadian Forces. It also raised funds for the Hockey Canada Foundation.

There were maybe 10,000 people in attendance, nowhere close to the number of people that Commonwealth Stadium can accommodate. I have to agree with Terry Jones – promotion of the event could have been much better. The Mayor proclaimed the day Canada’s Heroes Day last Tuesday, but I’d bet that most Edmontonians still hadn’t heard of the event by the time it got started. It probably looked worse than it was though, because almost everyone in the stands made their way to the field once invited to do so. I’m sure that made the empty seats even more noticeable on TV.

Canada Celebrates was a great opportunity for those who did attend and for everyone who watched across the country to reflect back on Canada’s golden Winter Olympics and to salute the military. There were lots of little kids on the field, and they seemed to be having a great time! The flyover was pretty exciting too.

The event was by no means a failure, but it probably didn’t go as well as the organizers had hoped it would. My guess is that they didn’t have a lot of time to pull it together, but did so anyway. Kudos to them for seizing the opportunity to showcase the City of Champions. It’s just too bad we didn’t have time to fill the stands a little more.

You can see the rest of my photos here. You can see the Edmonton Journal’s photo gallery here (story is here).

Edmonton Tweets during the Men’s Gold Medal Hockey Game

I’m sure you’ve seen by now the chart that EPCOR released showing water consumption in Edmonton during the men’s gold medal hockey game on February 28th. It’s pretty amazing how closely the data matches the end of the periods! I’m sure the game had an impact on many other parts of our lives as well. For instance, tweeting!

Here’s how much Edmontonians were tweeting during the game:

I’ve also stuck February 21 and March 7 in there, so you can see the difference from normal. We posted 27 tweets per minute from noon until 6pm on game day. That’s about three times more than normal!

Here’s what we were tweeting about:

No surprise there! I’ll have more Twitter stats up soon.

New Concept for Edmonton Arena in The Quarters Downtown

Earlier today, local architect Gene Dub released some conceptual drawings and a video rendering of a new arena for Edmonton’s downtown. The project would cost about $300 million, and while Dub has talked to the Katz Group they haven’t made any commitments. According to Global TV, the arena would be on the third floor of the unique-looking, reverse-cone shaped building with retail underneath.

Dub surprised everyone by unveiling his vision at a public hearing for The Quarters Downtown redevelopment plan. The new arena would be located along 103A Avenue between 96th and 97th Streets. I’ve drawn it on a map which you can see here. Currently there’s a whole lot of parking on the site and not much else. The visioning process for The Quarters Downtown began over two years ago. City Council approved the vision statement on September 26th, 2006:

The Quarters (Downtown East) will be a vibrant, healthy community comprised of five distinct areas, each with its own character, activities, and feel, structured around a unique linear park system running through the neighbourhood that provides a defining element for the community. The neighbourhood is well connected to the downtown core and river valley, yet has a distinct image that identifies it as a unique place in the city. Streets are improved with limited through traffic, making the streets safe and inviting for pedestrians and bicyclists. Large city blocks are broken into smaller, more inviting and walkable pieces. Activity abounds. There is a mix of parks, shops, employment, services, and housing. There is a diversity of ages, incomes, and cultures. Open space is surrounded by businesses and housing, creating a safe and inviting amenity year round. The Quarters is a place where community is important and pride and investment in the neighbourhood is evident.

I don’t think the proposed arena goes against that vision, but it’s not exactly a perfect fit, either. I’ve been critical of a new arena before, primarily because I don’t feel that public funding should finance the bulk of the project. I’d reconsider that if the arena was part of a redevelopment project such as The Quarters, however. It remains unclear whether or not the proposed site would be large enough for more than just the arena.

Here’s the video render:

It’s definitely eye-catching.

Wondering who Gene Dub is? He’s the architect behind Edmonton’s City Hall. His firm has received a number of awards over the years, including at least six for the glass-and-stone pyramids of City Hall. Dub also served one-term as a city councillor.

It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of this proposal – I’ll be keeping an eye on it. You can find more comments on the design here and here.

UPDATE (11/25/2008): The Edmonton Journal wrote about the concept here, with few additional details but comments from Dub and a couple councillors.

Hockey season returns: on the ice and in the blogs

nhl logo With variations depending on where you look, a few main categories tend to dominate the 130 million or so blogs available on the web. There are plenty of news and political blogs such as the Daily Kos, especially with the upcoming U.S. election. Some of the most highly-trafficked blogs focus on entertainment, such as TMZ. There are also lots of technology and business blogs, such as TechCrunch. And of course, there are millions of personal blogs written by people just like you. The Alberta blogosphere (blogs written by Albertans, taken collectively) has its fair share of blogs in each of these categories, as well as another popular category – hockey blogs.

Not only do Albertans love to watch hockey, they apparently love to write about it too! There are dozens of blogs about hockey in our province. At least 20 of them focus on the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers, or both. Perhaps the most well known of all of these blogs is The Battle of Alberta. Written by Calgarian Matt Fenwick and Edmontonian Andy Grabia (with various contributors from time to time) the blog covers all things related to the Flames and Oilers, and frequently hosts passionate discussions in the comments section. The Battle of Alberta was created in September 2005 and averages 1500 page views per day.

Edmonton writer and National Post contributor Colby Cosh doesn’t write solely about hockey, but he does post quite often about the Oilers on his blog. Other popular blogs devoted to the Oilers include Covered in Oil, Lowetide, Hot Oil, and Irreverent Oiler Fans. Don’t worry if you get hooked reading these blogs – many of them frequently post in the off-season, and there are plenty of other Oiler blogs you can check out. In fact, there are so many blogs that write about the Oilers that they have given themselves a name – the Oilogosphere.

There are quite a few blogs for Flames fans also. Some of the more popular ones include Five Hole Fanatics, Completely Hammered, Hit The Post, Inside the Flames, and Igniting the Flame.

The great thing about these blogs is that they’re written by passionate fans. These bloggers generally aren’t interested in making money, and as a result tend to post things that you wouldn’t necessarily find in your local newspaper. For instance, The Battle of Alberta has done an excellent job of pointing out the rhetoric coming from all parties involved in the potential new hockey arena in Edmonton. Also unlike newspapers, Alberta’s hockey blogs are free of any restrictions on format or content. You’ll find team analysis, game recaps, statistics, news and rumors about trades and signings, discussion of articles in the mainstream media, and much more.

And from time to time you’ll even find some humor amongst the blog posts. The members of the Oilogosphere like to use their own terms to refer to players, plays, and other things such as the Colin Campbell Wheel of Justice – which refers to “the method by which the length of NHL suspensions is determined.” You can find an up-to-date glossary on The Battle of Alberta – they update it each season.

I’m quite excited for the return of hockey, and I’m sure Alberta’s hockey bloggers are too!

The Oilers begin their preseason tonight at home to the Canucks. You can find the game notes and a live stream here. The Flames get underway tomorrow night at home to the Panthers.

Edmonton Oilers Arena Feasibility Report – Link Roundup

edmonton oilers Earlier this week, the nine-member committee studying the feasibility of building a new hockey arena in Edmonton released their report. It contains no surprises, and recommends that if a new facility is to be built, it should be built downtown. I’m sure you’ve heard all about it on the news, but there are lots of excellent blog posts on the story that should not be missed. Here they are, with quotes.

From Covered in Oil:

The other question, whether a new arena would be better off in another part of the City will have to go unanswered, as the Feasibility Committee didn’t seem to even bother to look anywhere else.

From Grandinite:

If I get the underlying logic of this development, bringing people downtown will bring in cash. but that cash will flow out of the area if the owners do not live downtown. Sure, money will be spent at restaurants and casinos, but where do the profits go?

From Colby Cosh:

I’m not too clear after reading the summary just what is wrong with the existing Rexall Place. I was looking forward to some clear public explanation of this, but all we’ve been given is a lot of wind about “downtown revitalization.”

From The Battle of Alberta:

Dear Mr. Lowe,

We already have a hockey shrine in Edmonton. It’s called the Northlands Coliseum. You might remember it. You won five Stanley Cups there.

A arena without a history of accomplishment is not a shrine. It’s a mall with seats.

From Fighting for Taxpayers:

Dr. Brad Humphreys, the foremost expert on the economic benefits of professional sport teams and arenas has proven that there is not an economic growth, but merely a shift of where the money is spent.

From daveberta.ca:

Of course I want Edmonton’s downtown to become vibrant, but building a giant hockey rink won’t automatically put Edmonton in a position to rival downtown Montreal or New York (like some of the article’s have alluded). I’m still not convinced that spending upwards of $450 million (plus land costs) on an arena that will draw the suburbs downtown for a couple hours 2-3 nights a week is what will revitalize downtown.

From Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying:

There will be a new arena and it will be downtown, any alternatives have pretty much been steamrolled over by the municipal government and the Edmonton media. There will be public funding, not direct tax increases, but by other means, and the province will give nothing.

From A Blog Of Pucks:

It would be an 18,000 seat 450 Million dollar arena. That’s great but once again I’ll ask the difficult question: Is this really going to make the wives like living in Edmonton any better? The committee better ask Pronger’s better half first.

And finally, this one isn’t a blog but an article at CBC today:

A new downtown Edmonton arena to replace Rexall Place could threaten one of the biggest annual events in the city, say officials with the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

The owners of Rexall Place, Edmonton Northlands, are ruling out the possibility of keeping it open as is, if a new arena is built.

“We can’t have two competing large-scale facilities,” Jerry Bouma, chair of the board, said Wednesday.

Also, be sure to check out this interview with Brad Humphreys.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Stay tuned.