We end 2016 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #8: The opening of Rogers Place.
For a number of reasons, the development of Rogers Place, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers, became a story to watch in 2016. Not only was Rogers Place the only new venue to open for NHL regular season action in 2016, but it quickly became touted in some circles as a model for new arena projects.
In the years leading up to its opening, Rogers Place was billed as a potential economic development catalyst for downtown Edmonton. The arena was paving the way for the Ice District, a large-scale mixed-use development that would encompass 25 acres of land. While the project is expected to take shape in phases, the claims of its positives have proven to be controversial–many in the area have criticized the funding model used for Rogers Place, and argued that the development will not provide a broader public benefit.
When the arena finally did open, Oilers’ fans proclaimed it a success. Pre-season tours yielded positive feedback, and a crowd of more than 18,550 saw the Oilers defeat the Calgary Flames in the first regular season game at Rogers Place.
Meanwhile, other cities were taking notice of Rogers Place. In Calgary, where the Flames have been engaged in sometimes polarizing discussions for a new arena and sports complex, officials have cited Rogers Place as a potential model for developing an arena.
That has also been the case in Ottawa. As it stands, the Ottawa Senators are heading into next year with considerable momentum for their arena proposal, which calls for a venue to be constructed as part of a larger redevelopment of LeBreton Flats. Rogers Place has been cited as a model for how the Senators and Ottawa could work to build an arena, while also focusing on redevelopment.
Time will tell if Rogers Place not only leads to a broad economic impact in Edmonton, but also becomes a model for arena construction in other cities. For 2016, however, the venue turned plenty of heads and opened to praise from Oilers’ fans.
Rendering courtesy Edmonton Oilers.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2016 List: