Arena could create 6,000 jobs, report says
About 6,000 permanent jobs with a total payroll of $60 million would be created if an arena and entertainment centre were built downtown, according to a study from the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation released Wednesday.
The study looked at the economic impact of the proposed arena, which would replace the aging Rexall Place. It concluded that if approved, the project would revitalize downtown and benefit the entire city.
"Almost every industry in Edmonton benefits if you're viewed as having a strong urban core," said EEDC president Ron Gilbertson. "We think that downtown Edmonton is really starting to develop ... and we think a project like this can really act as a catalyst or provide the critical mass that it takes to do that."
The report also found the complex would create 30,000 "person-years" of jobs and $1.25 billion in wages while it was under construction.
When Rexall Pharmacy owner and billionaire Daryl Katz bought the Edmonton Oilers in 2008, he pledged $100 million to pay for a new home for the team if it were built downtown.
Earlier this month, the Katz Group announced it had hired international entertainment firm AEG to help in the development of the arena, which is expected to go on the current site of the Baccarat Casino.
In 2008, a task force appointed by Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel recommended the arena be funded by a mix of private and public funds, with the public portion possibly coming from a community revitalization levy.
But the idea of a downtown arena has been controversial, as many Edmonton residents believe taxpayer money shouldn't fund an arena for a privately owned NHL team.