Downtown Arena is a new multi-use indoor arena being planned in Edmonton, Alberta. The venue will mainly host events associated with the National Hockey League (NHL).
It will replace Rexall Place, which is the present home of NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. The City of Edmonton will also be given a limited access of four weeks each year to host other events at the sports field. The facility is being designed with a seating capacity for 20,500 spectators.
The arena is estimated to cost $450m, while the land and community rink are estimated to cost $24.6m. It will be owned by the City of Edmonton.
Katz Group will invest $100m to develop an entertainment district around the field, subject to commercial viability. Under the frame agreement, the company needs to commit $30m before even starting the stadium’s construction.
The city council is responsible for the land acquisition for the project. The land will be owned by the City of Edmonton itself and the development will be designed in accordance with the Capital City Downtown Plan.
In October 2011, the city council agreed to go ahead with the project and approved $30m for its design. The City of Edmonton released preliminary designs in April 2012. PCL Construction was selected to manage construction of the downtown arena. ICON Venue Group (ICON) was selected as project manager.
Design of Edmonton’s new multi-use arena
The preliminary design of the arena mimics an oil droplet. The exteriors will be designed to bring natural light into the structure through glass walls. Ample use of glass gives the structure an iconic appeal from each angle. The intimate bowl design will bring the crowds closer to the action.
The design will blend different features and buildings, such as a Community Skating Rink and Winter Garden. Designed as a natural light-filled venue, the skating rink will have a capacity for 1,000 visitors and host a range of skating activities.
The Winter Garden is a pedestrian way. It will create multi-use space for events as well as take people down to a new public square. The arena will be integrated with an adjacent LRT station.
The flexible design of the arena will allow the operator to host variety of events, ranging in stature from small-scale shows of 2,000 people to large concerts and spectator events which can hold up to 20,500 people.
The city council is considering inputs from the public for the design of the arena building. The final design will be unveiled once the public consultation is complete. The final design should be consistent with the Capital City Downtown Plan design requirements and acceptable by the city and also by Katz Group.
Financial backing from the Katz Group and council
In October 2011, a financial framework for the downtown arena was approved by the Edmonton City Council. The city will pay $125m, while Katz Group will contribute $100m and $125m will come from a facility improvement fee paid by building users. The rest of the money will be secured from the province or federal agencies.
The city will borrow funds from other government agencies for covering the costs of construction. These borrowings will be included in the budget calculations of the city. Edmonton City Council will also sign an agreement with the Edmonton Oilers for the arena on a cost-sharing basis.
The $100m contributed by Katz Group will be repaid over 35 years at an estimated $5.5m each year. The repayment scheme also includes the cost of interest.
Katz Group will be responsible for operating expenses, capital upgrades, maintenance and improvements. It will earn operating income including the revenues from naming rights and parking. The City of Edmonton will have access to the arena for 28 days a year and will maintain a ticket tax on the events at the downtown arena.
Sustainability of Edmonton’s Downtown Arena
The arena is expected to receive a LEED Silver Certificate due to its environmentally-friendly design. It will become second LEED certified NHL stadium once it’s operational.