Hockey Canada deal could mean curtains for coliseum
'Through all those good hockey teams, it was our castle,' says councillor
It would be "tough" to sell Edmontonians on the idea of demolishing the old Northlands Coliseum rather than repurposing the building, according to Coun. Ed Gibbons.
But that may be the decision Edmonton city council reaches.
Hockey Canada and the city are poised to sign a memorandum of understanding for the future use of the building. But that could mean tearing down the coliseum and building a new facility on the land.
The proposal is to build a Hockey Centre of Excellence, which would include four sheets of ice, a running track, a land training area, classrooms and administrative space.
A report from city staff on the MOU released on Thursday suggested tearing down the old coliseum may "very likely" be the more "cost-effective option."
It also stated that a full-cost analysis will need to be done to compare the cost of refurbishing the coliseum to the cost of a brand new purpose-built facility.
"People that lived here before 15 years ago or 20 years ago, through all those good hockey teams, it was our castle," said Gibbons of the coliseum. "They want to keep that."
Mayor Don Iveson agreed there is emotion and civic pride attached to the old building.
"No doubt the Northlands Coliseum is hallowed ground for Edmontonians and for hockey enthusiasts in particular," said Iveson. "That is a factor in the decision making."
The cost of demolishing the building has been estimated at around $8 million, Iveson said.
A previous plan from Northlands to repurpose the building under Vision 2020 carried a price tag of $102 million.
However, city staff said Thursday the costs could be 50 per cent higher because the city has to build to certain standards, even for refurbishments.
The significance of the building in the city's history is why there's been so much public enthusiasm for repurposing it, said Iveson.
"People are connected to it in lots of different ways — great concert memories, great hockey memories," said Iveson.
However, it's expected that city council will make the decision in favour of saving tax dollars, he said.
"If there simply isn't a strong business case for repurposing then that will lead to reasonable decision making," he said.
The city staff report on the MOU will be discussed at the May 30 council meeting.