Edmonton's Katz Group of companies has a heavy hitter under contract in its ongoing plans to develop a new sports and entertainment complex downtown, the company said Thursday in a news release.


Edmonton's Rexall Place, built in 1974, is the oldest NHL rink in Canada. ((CBC))

The company is called AEG, an international firm that's involved in megaprojects such as the 02, a 28-acre complex in London, England, and L.A. LIVE, a $2.5-billion sports, entertainment and residential development in downtown Los Angeles.

"AEG is a world leader in sports and entertainment developments, especially as related to urban revitalization projects," said Patrick LaForge, president and CEO of the Edmonton Oilers hockey club.

"We're at a place now where we need advice and experience, or the advice that comes from experience, on, you know, the feasibility studies and assessments and so on and so forth that go into those early stages [of developing the project]." LaForge said.

The 25 projects around the world AEG has been responsible for bring a lot of credibility to what the Katz Group is trying to do in Edmonton, with political leaders and with the public, he added.

After Rexall Pharmacy billionaire Daryl Katz bought the Edmonton Oilers in early 2008, he began plans to replace the 35-year-old arena, now known as Rexall Place, with a facility downtown. Katz pledged $100 million to the project.

A task force set up by city council recommended a mix of private and public funds be used for any new building.


The Oilers's lease on Rexall Place expires in June of 2014, and Patrick LaForge, president and CEO of the Oilers Hockey club, says the team would like to be in a new downtown arena by that time. ((CBC))

Speculation over where the new enterprise would be located was fanned in October when CBC News learned that Katz had bought land at the corner of 101st Street and 104th Avenue — currently the site of the Baccarat Casino — as well as property nearby on the south side of 104th Street.

The company has never confirmed whether either of the sites would be chosen for the sports and entertainment complex.

AEG will help with everything from planning and design to construction and operation of whatever is built in the city's downtown.

The time frame for developing the downtown complex is still undetermined, but LaForge said that with the lease on Rexall Place expiring in June, 2014, "it's always been our vision that we would be in a new arena in time for that."