Edmonton's downtown arena comes in above cap

The latest cost estimate for Edmonton's proposed downtown arena is $485 million, $35 million higher than the cap set by city council.

City council to decide on changes to reduce cost

Arena costs are $35 million over the $450 million cap. 2:23

The latest cost estimate for Edmonton's proposed downtown arena is $485 million, $35 million higher than the cap set by city council.

The designers have given city council a list of possible changes to bring the project on budget, said Rick Daviss, the city's executive director for the Edmonton Arena District.

The designers have already changed the plans since the initial cost estimates for the arena project were submitted to reduce costs.

They include removal of the Oiler Team Store, changing the exterior finish from zinc to stainless steel, removal of some food and beverage facilities, and replacing the terrazzo flooring on the second concourse with polished concrete, said Rick Daviss.

Additional changes that council will address next Tuesday include reducing underground parking by half, and simplifying the exterior finish.

None of the cost-saving measures identified will require significant redesign which would result in increased construction costs due to delays.

But Daviss admits that changing the design too much could backfire and disappoint the public.

"It really is a design that's captured the attention of not just Edmontonians but I think it's got international exposure and recognition as truly being a stand-out facility," he said. "And we don't want to jeopardize that at this stage of the game."

Mayor Stephen Mandel said the report shows that the arena can come at or below the $450 million cap.

"We all have dreams that we'd like to have everything but if you want A, maybe you can't have B," he said.

But Coun. Kerry Diotte believes this new information is shaking public confidence in the process,

"The public is already concerned about the financial side to this," he said. " I get tonnes of emails saying it's not a good enough deal for taxpayers, we should get more revenue, we shouldn't have to put in more money. I want a new arena but let's get it right."

There was some good news out of Thursday report. Estimates of revenues the city would see from the community revitalization levy are now pegged at $1.6 billion over 20 years, up from the original estimate of $1.2 billion.

The city also believes that the cost of the LRT link to the arena is $10 million less than estimated.

However, the cost of the Winter Garden, the structure that crosses 104th Avenue and links the arena with the rest of downtown, now sits at $80 million, $30 million more than the original estimate.