As the Edmonton Oilers begin a new era, they are prepping for the opening of Rogers Place while the city’s former mayor is reflecting on the deal that brought it to fruition.
The Oilers are set to receive the keys to Rogers Place this week, which is putting the club into action. Susan Darrington is serving as the arena’s general manager, and will be tasked with training staff and setting up the operations at Rogers Place.
Considering the scope of Rogers Place, the prep work requires a good deal of imagination. Aside from being noted for its technology and sustainability features, Rogers Place is constructed to be a venue that hosts more than the Oilers. It will take the place of its predecessor, Rexall Place, as a primary venue for major indoor acts, including large-scale concerts. With that in mind, Darrington wants to ensure that arena personnel is ready for more than just hockey and is staging a test concert. More from the Edmonton Sun:
When the open house is over, it’ll be concert time with Keith Urban, Dolly Parton and Drake. And Darrington doesn’t want to go into that cold turkey.
“We’re going to do a test of a concert.
“We’re going to load a show. We’re going to load in a local band and we’re going to practice everything. We’re going to run an hour show in there just to make sure that the acoustics sound great and our staff knows how to deal with music.
“When Keith Urban comes in, all our staff will have met trucks at the loading dock, loaded equipment in, hung things up in the ceiling, used the lift … we don’t want to be running around looking for things.”
Rogers Place is opening after years of both celebration and scrutiny over its conception. While proponents have touted the combined economic development potential of Rogers Place and the adjacent Ice District, opponents have criticized the funding plan used for the arena and stated that the proposed development will not provide a broader community benefit.
Former mayor Stephen Mandel was involved in negotiations with Oilers owner Daryl Katz. In reflecting on the agreement, Mandel defended the action taken by Edmonton, stating that he believes that the Oilers may have left the city without an arena deal in place. More from CBC News:
“I think it was a big, big card that the Katz Group were able to play,” Mandel said. “In most negotiations, the city always has the upper hand, because we control the world around us. In this instance, we did not control the world around us.”
The former mayor said the deal almost fell apart at many points, and he said Katz probably felt he also gave up too much.
Ultimately, Mandel said it’s not the responsibility of the Katz Group to solve social issues in the city.
“It’s collectively our responsibilities, and the province should do a better job … in helping those who are in need,” he said.
“And so to place that upon the development is a bit onerous and a bit unfair.”