More rinks still needed, even if Northlands' Multiplex approved, says city

Converting Rexall Place into a multi-rink recreational arena would be a great benefit to local teams trying to find ice time, says Hockey Edmonton.

Converted Rexall 'great opportunity,' says Hockey Edmonton

Rexall Place would be converted to a six or seven rink recreational arena. (Supplied)

Northlands' Ice Coliseum proposal could help ease the city-wide demand for arena time for hockey local teams, but more rinks are still needed, says the city's director of project development.

Rodger Jevne said six Edmonton rinks are reaching the end of their lifespans, and will either need to be demolished or require major investments to keep them viable.

"The strategy really talks about closing some of those and replacing them with new and more modern facilities," Jevne said.

The rinks, some as old as 50 years, would cost as much as $40 million to replace, he said. They include:

  • Westwood
  • Oliver
  • Crestwood
  • Coronation
  • Tipton
  • George S. Hughes

Northlands' plans, which still need approval and $165 million in funding, includes renovations to all three of its principle buildings.

Oliver arena in Edmonton (Google)
That would include $85 million to turn Rexall Place into the 'Northlands Ice Coliseum,' with six or seven ice surfaces.

The goal is to have to renovations completed by 2020.

Coun. Tony Caterina said the Northlands proposal makes sense from a financial point of view.

"This is a heck of a bargain," Caterina said, pointing to the cost estimate of $85M for converting Rexall.

But relocating all six rinks to Northlands would not address the growing demand, said Jevne. He said Rexall Place may be able to compensate for the two or three aging rinks that are located nearby.

He said the city is also exploring partnerships to build new rinks all over the city, not just with Northlands.

"We're looking at the possibility of partnering with the University of Alberta on their south campus to build an arena to maybe replace the south-central one," Jevne said.

"It will really be showpiece in Alberta."

Converting Rexall Place into a multi-rink recreational arena would be a great benefit for local teams trying to find ice time, said Hockey Edmonton president Mark Doram.

Mark Doram, president of Hockey Edmonton, welcomes the plan. (CBC)
"It's a great plan, said Doram. "It's going to have a lot of opportunity for Hockey Edmonton and the players across the city."

The city right now can supply about 80 per cent of the ice time needed by local teams, according to Hockey Edmonton., Doram said. Many associations are purchasing arena time outside the city, with teams going to Calmar and New Serepta.

"We would like it in the fall of 2016," said Doram, "because we do have these teams buying ice in all these small communities, and it would be nice to get everybody back into the city."

The Northlands plan also includes a major renovation to turn Hall D of the Expo Centre into a 5,000-seat venue for lacrosse, rodeo events, minor hockey championships, and mid-sized concerts.

The cost of that renovation is pegged at $35 million.

"This would allow us to bid for and hold major regional and national tournaments, such as the TELUS Cup," Doram said.

The tournament could be played in the multi-plex, with the final game in Hall D, he said.

Hosting such tournaments could pump a lot of money into the city, with visiting teams and families paying for for hotel rooms, meals, shopping and entertainment, Doram said.

"It will really be showpiece in Alberta."

Northlands' will present its proposal to city council on March 15. Jevne hopes to present a complete analysis of how that proposal would affect the city's arena strategy on the same day.