Rexall Place to be kept as part of new plans for Northlands grounds
Coun. Oshry said new plans will 'celebrate the history of hockey and the events that have been there.'
Edmonton's Rexall Place has officially escaped the wrecking ball.
Councillor Michael Oshry broke the news to CBC Thursday, saying the former home of the Oilers will remain in use for the foreseeable future, but not in ways that would compete with the new Rogers Place arena.
Oshry wouldn't elaborate on how Rexall Place will be used, but more details are expected the morning of Feb. 17, when Northlands announces future plans for its entire property.
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Oshry, who sits on Northlands' board of directors, said some of the plans for the site will come as a "bit of a surprise."
"To tear (Rexall Place) down is more or less the same cost as what the land would be worth, so it would really be cost neutral, you wouldn't really gain anything," Oshry said.
"The bones of the building are fantastic and it's obviously got a great history and a great presence in the city, so by repurposing the building the committee thought that would be the best use of the facility."
Oshry said the decision to keep Rexall Place standing was the result of research done in other cities with two arenas and a lengthy public consultation, including a questionnaire completed by 25,000 people.
"There was a common theme that people didn't want Rexall Place to be torn down, and Northlands didn't want to do it if we could make it financially viable," Oshry said. "So we've come up with a plan for the building to still celebrate the history of hockey and the events that have been there."
The two recommendations came from a 224 page report released by a committee that studied possible options for the arena that has been home to the Edmonton Oilers since the 1970's.
For the first scenario to be successful, the report said, Northlands would have to collaborate with the city and the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) in developing a non-compete agreement with the new Rogers Place arena, set to open downtown in 2016.
Oshry said the new plan for Rexall Place and the Northlands grounds is ambitious but doable. Following next week's announcement of the future plans, Oshry said there will be more public consultation and open houses.
Any plans for repurposing the site are pending council funding and approval.
"I think its a big step for them and a really exciting opportunity for the city," Oshry said.