Rogers Place sneak peek attracts thousands

Edmontonians of all kinds braved the cold to get a behind-the-scene glimpse of Rogers Place Saturday.

Frigid temperatures don't deter fans from seeing the future home of the Oilers

Fans got the opportunity to view the interior of Rogers Place. (Josh Skrunik/CBC)

Edmontonians braved the cold to get a glimpse of Edmonton's future Saturday.

The construction company behind Rogers Place held an open house to the public, inviting it to come in and take a look at one of the biggest construction projects in Edmonton history.

And Edmonton was game.

Within the first hour of opening, a thousand people flooded into the future home of the Oilers. 

"It's great the number of people that we've had, the weather certainly hasn't helped," said Mike Staines, project director. "It's pretty cool outside, but we've managed to keep it warm inside."

Due to the cold, the event opened earlier than scheduled, 9:30 a.m. instead of 11.

At times the windchill felt colder than -30 C. That didn't deter fans hungry to see where Hall, Eberle, and, of course, McDavid will skate next season.   

"This is awesome," said George Papui. "I've been going to Oilers games since they became the Alberta Oilers in 74, and I keep cheering for them.

"Unfortunately, I won't be able to afford season tickets here. Anyways, go Oilers go. This is an awesome building, and I hear it's the nicest in the world." 
An aerial view of the Rogers Place arena now under construction in Edmonton. (CBC)

Visitors were able to see two main areas; the downtown community rink and the main rink itself.

They were able to spend about 20 to 30 minutes walking through the buildings, taking pictures and viewing displays.

The idea to hold an open house came from the B.C. Place revitalization project that Staines worked on in Vancouver, and during such a long process it's worthwhile to give back to the city.

"It was our opportunity to thank Edmontonians for some of the disruptions and challenges we've caused for 104th Avenue, and we're glad to do it," said Staines.  

Rogers Place is anticipated to open in the fall, and Staines says the project is expected finish on time.

"In terms of building, we're about 65 to 70 per cent complete, but we've got some big ticket items to come in like the scoreboard. We're right on schedule 21 or 22 months into our 30-month project."  

As for leaving Rexall Place, and the ghosts of Stanley Cups, one fan summed up his hope for Rogers Place while gazing at the roof of the new building.

"This will be the place that McDavid built."


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