Edmonton

Northlands repurposing plan goes to city council next week

A new report recommends the City of Edmonton consider a partnership with Hockey Canada to repurpose Northlands Coliseum as a multiplex arena.

Edmonton could partner with Hockey Canada to repurpose the former Rexall Place as a multiplex arena

A new report which proposes repurposing Northlands Coliseum into a four-sheet arena will go to city council for debate on April 11. (CBC)

A new report recommends the City of Edmonton consider a partnership with Hockey Canada to repurpose Northlands Coliseum as a multiplex arena.

The report released Thursday proposes four ice sheets, a 200-metre running track, a training area, classrooms and administrative space to support sport and athlete development.

"They (Hockey Canada) can bring real institutional heft to the table, potential sponsors and partners over time," said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. "I'm encouraged by what I see in the report."

The city's cost estimate for repurposing the coliseum is $102 million.

However, adding new ice sheets would allow the city to close six aging single-pad arenas, saving $35 million in future upgrades, according to the report.
It's "greatly positive" that the city and Hockey Canada see value in repurposing the old Rexall Place, said Tim Reid, president & CEO, Northlands. (CBC)

It's "greatly positive" that the city and Hockey Canada see value in repurposing the old Rexall Place, said Northlands president and CEO Tim Reid on Thursday.

"One of the key elements of 'Vision 2020' was repurposing the coliseum so that we could activate this neighbourhood and really bring life back to the community," said Reid.

The proposal also raises a "pile of questions" about future event bookings at the facility and the future of the Northlands organization, he said.

"It's a fantastic time for something like this to come forward," Reid added. "That building has an incredible identity to it and it's a history and it's a brand that's not easily replaced."

But before it can even consider entering into a partnership with Hockey Canada, the city needs the Oilers Entertainment Group to support the proposal. That's because a city agreement with the corporation includes conditions that the city not repurpose the coliseum into another sport or entertainment venue.
An inside view of the proposed ice coliseum as part of Northlands Vision 2020. (supplied)

"My sense is their real concern was with the venue becoming an entertainment centre as competition, particularly for concert, or for other team sports played on a professional basis, " Iveson said.

"Amateur sport use is really not what the master agreement was designed to protect them against so I'm hopeful that we can find a win-win here that they'll be able to not just sign off on, but potentially invest in."

The report estimates the completion of a business case, functional program and schematic design will cost up to $2.85 million and take 18 to 24 months to complete.

Iveson said he would like to see the business case completed as the next step in the process.

The report will go to city council for review on April 11.

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