Sunday, October 21, 2018

The ground was broken March 3, 2014 and 922 days later the public open house happened. Just over 28 months and the empty gravel lot became one of the City’s biggest capital projects. Love the arena or hate it, that’s your choice, but you can’t deny the $2 Billion of construction that has started adjacent to this project is a significant boost to the downtown. Will the development have occurred without an arena? That’s hard to say. Changing demographics, the traditional work environment is evolving, the need to densify, all factors that suggest a renewed interest in our downtown will happen, the arena is just a catalyst. If this will really pan out, who knows, but that logic can be applied to anything we build, there’s always risk. There is a segment of the our population that use this type of facility, just like a recreation centre or library or performing arts centre. Taxpayers pay, some people use it some don’t. I’m not sure why there’s so much negativity, I guess there will always be a core group of outspoken citizens struggling with change. In the end we don’t know 100% that this project will fail to renew the downtown and do what it claimed it would but we also don’t know it won’t. We’ve spend decades sitting around. The do nothing group has had their time to prove to us that this has been the best course of action; and they’ve failed to deliver. It’s time to give the change advocates, the big idea people, a chance now. In 30 years if this hasn’t worked we can point fingers then.

The impact on homeless is a more interesting one. Is it really fair to expect a series of capital projects to solve social issues? The reality is that great strides have been taken to take 1,000’s of people off the streets already, and yet all levels of government struggle with this issue. ANY development in the downtown has the potential to disrupt the homeless, but we aren’t asking them to fix the problem. What will the City do when the Stanley Milner Library is closed for an extensive period for renovation? This will have a significant impact on our inner city population. Social issues are complex and societies problem to deal with and fix. They shouldn’t be taken lightly but at the same time don’t deflect the responsibility to a development project with limited ability to create any kind of meaningful change; that’s all of our responsibilities.

The facility is just an arena, it’ll create civic pride for some, it’ll create jobs for others, it’ll be an issue for some. There will be complaints about cost, access, operations, treaty land, etc. but at the end of the day those same complaints are levied against all civic facilities at some point; libraries, art galleries, performing arts, community buildings, even schools. We’re now a small big city, let’s start acting like one.

So if you want to read about my thoughts on the actual building, the rest is for you. If you don’t or you just want to bitch about hot dog prices then google something else and keep walking.

First off, hat’s off the City of Edmonton staff and Rogers Place staff for doing a great job. If you could follow directions, things went smoothly. Remember just because someone didn’t do it the way you would have, doesn’t make it wrong. There were lots of volunteers on the street directing people, lot’s of staff in the building, lots of police, if you didn’t know about parking, access, and other issues then that was your problem. Food prices I won’t even touch. It’s an event space, expect high prices. Why are people surprised about this??

The Ford Hall is a great space. My only complaint on opening day was the lack of benches and trash cans but I’m assuming they’re coming.

The Iron Foot Place mural by Alex Janvier is amazing and worth the visit on it’s own.


The second most talked about feature, the scoreboard also didn’t disappoint. It was amazing.


Even from the top row the scoreboard looks great.

One of the more striking features is the amount of glass. The windows are great addition to the design.

The Curve restaurant on the Loge level also looks like a great space and idea. Let’s hope it’s relatively easy to get in!! You can see people in the photo, the lower balcony area, looking down from the restaurant. The people at the highest balcony area are in the concession area for the upper sections.

It was unfortunate we couldn’t access the seats, I understand why, but at the same time it would have been great. With all the talk about how the organizers visited multiple venues and stole the best ideas, it’s clear when you visit that they did a great job.

Cranes will be around the site for a few more months!


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