Sunday, October 21, 2018

Finally, it would appear we will be able to get decent food at a hockey game or concert! We have fantastic restaurants in Edmonton, but the food at Rexall Place has always sucked. Not only did the quality suck, the selection sucked, and the availability sucked. There was nothing that worked at Rexall Place. We won’t even begin to discuss the beer selection and prices.

I can appreciate that 20 -30 years ago the entertainment value of a hockey game laid solely with the actual game. With ticket prices increasing significantly and the games becoming bigger events, it always felt like there should be an opportunity to have a better evening. If you were entertaining a client, friend, or family member, you should have the option to actually entertain them. The food and limited drink options always felt out of sync with the price you were paying. It finally got to the point where most people only drank at the games. You were crazy if you ate anything other than popcorn. When Starbucks finally went in, the non drinkers had an option but people who wanted food suffered. Speaking of Starbucks wasn’t it amazing that it took that long to put a concession in that actually sold something other than beer/pop? Hockey is a winter game, something hot to drink only makes sense!

My other pet peeve was the availability of food. When my kids were younger and they wanted hot dogs you couldn’t actually buy a hot dog and a hamburger in the same concession. Ice cream was at a third spot and fresh popcorn was downstairs in the end zone. We spent more time walking in crushed hallways and waiting in long lines then we actually did watching the game. The intermission time was equivalent to the game time and don’t think anyone was always in their seat all the time at puck drop.

Of course you could always buy nothing. No food, no beer, no snacks. But breaking bread with friends and enjoying a good game is all part of hockey. Being forced to do without because of the cost, quality or availability shouldn’t be an option.

The unappealing burger was just another typical Rexall Burger.
This was a typical Rexall Burger. The wilted lettuce, the unmelted cheese, the high filler burger patty …..yummmm!

Thankfully, according to this is all going to change. First Conor McDavid and now food, real food!! Of course we’re at the mercy of a large venue food service contractor, I’m not sure arena sushi sounds appetizing but we’ll have to wait and see.

The exceptional food experience does not stop at the restaurant. Tingling explained the concessions along the concourse will offer “unlimited options,” where fans can not only expect to find classic offerings, such as hotdogs and hamburgers, but also new items like a teriyaki rice bowl, Indian food, porchetta sandwiches and much more.

“Wherever you are in the building, the dining experience is very important,” Tingling said.

He also described what fans can expect to find in the club sections of the arena: hand-crafted artisan pizzas, fresh hamburgers and a unique chef-attended condiments station including caramelized bacon, mushrooms and onions that will take that fan-favourite hotdog or hamburger to the next level.

“Whether it be the hot dog, or whether it be the filet mignon up in the restaurant, I can tell you it is designed in a way that any guest can have a great product.”

It would appear that they’ve addressed the variety issue, the accessibility issue, the quality we’ll have to wait and experience first hand. I find it interesting that they are fixated on perogies, let’s hope they use decent perogies, locally sourced.

Having snack selections is equally important, hopefully a good coffee bar, and improved beer selection. Hit these items and it looks like the food will be a home run.

I’m still waiting to find out if a major restaurant is going in that would be accessible from 104th?

Other anticipated food offerings include a mac & cheese bar with toppings of pulled pork, bison, chili and more; a beef brisket sandwich stacked with pancetta and wild boar; and a signature hotdog with unlimited, gourmet toppings

“We’ve increased our point-of-sale ratio, which means there are more places to go and buy food throughout the building, as well as all of our products that are food-inclusive,” explained Darrington.

“We want fans to really get to know the venue and move throughout all the different levels to see the different options we’ve made available.”

In addition to the main concourse concessions, fans can explore the Ozone bars on the west side of the building as well as the two-level Sportsnet Club and Sky Lounge on the east side of the building. These clubs offer a full-service bar, with a food-inclusive, rotating menu of fresh and locally-sourced food. Following an event, the Sky Lounge’s curtains will be drawn, turning it into one of the most sought-after nightspots in downtown Edmonton.

Good food may distract us from the product on the ice, at least of a while. Let’s cross our fingers and hope OEG and Aramark can pull this off and more importantly sustain it over the years. Great hockey will also hopefully follow.

The boards are up, the glass is up, and the wrapping is coming off the scoreboard. Things are looking pretty good at Rogers Place. The narrow glass panels at the end zone look like they may be distracting?

You start to appreciate the size of the clock once the boards are up and you can see it in better context. I think that as impressive as the clock and the construction has been, it’s the sheer scale of the interior that will impress people the most. It looks amazing!

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