Edmonton Ice District designers visit Saskatoon with input on new downtown event centre

Edmonton Ice District designers visit Saskatoon with input on new downtown event centre

Lots of things are still up in the air regarding the downtown Saskatoon events center, but the Saskatoon Chamber hopes to learn from those who have been working on something similar.

An event was held on Friday with people who have edited and planned the Edmonton Ice District that has been developing since 2014.

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The Rogers Place Arena neighborhood in downtown Edmonton offers a variety of amenities: an off-leash dog park, Banquet and Canadian Icehouse bars, a grocery store at Loblaws City Market, a JW Marriott hotel, Braven Restaurant, and the 66 -story Stantec Tower, the Oilers Team Store, a cannabis store and a liquor store.

There’s also a fan plaza where Edmonton Oilers fans gathered for watch parties during the team’s playoff run last summer, which also doubles as a free public ice rink during the winter.

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A photo of Oilers fans in Edmonton’s Ice District during the 2022 NHL playoffs. Global news

“It is now becoming quite clear – and I say this after visiting 40 facilities across North America and Western Europe – properly designed and properly integrated into an inner city core that an inner city sports and entertainment facility is a real engine of revitalization can be downtown,” said partner Bob Black.

Black is Executive Vice President of Edmonton Arena Corp., which operates the arena owned and maintained by the City of Edmonton. The company also receives all the revenue.

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One thing the citizens and Saskatoon City Council have given some thought to for the new downtown arena is parking.

Black said management in Edmonton faced similar backlash during the Ice District’s design phase.

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“It’s actually an advantage that people park in different locations in the downtown core because it results in people coming into the downtown core in different ways and leaving the downtown core in different places and at different times.”

1:50 The ice district is taking shape

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Black believes this will improve Saskatoon’s connectivity and bring customers to other venues in the district – however, not everyone agrees.

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“When you weigh the benefits of this new arena against the cost of the new arena, you realize there really is no net gain,” said Moshe Lander, a sports economist at Concordia University of Montreal.

He explained that the center is only used about 50 to 100 days a year and claimed it may not be the best investment of city funds.

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“If they look at this as a financial investment, it’s not going to work.

“If you think of it as civic pride, maybe you can’t put a price on that.”

The city of Saskatoon said a better idea of ​​what the events center will look like will come in the coming months. On January 17, the Governance and Priorities Committee discussed the potential for involvement of a private management company and noted that at least three separate companies had expressed interest in the project.

Though Friday’s panel was an attempt to learn from what others were doing, Lander thinks cities like Edmonton and Saskatoon are hard to compare.

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“Edmonton and Calgary have billion-dollar (NHL) franchises that you can say, hey, you should pay for a part of,” Lander said, referring to the Oilers and Calgary Flames.

“You just don’t have that luxury in Saskatoon.”

While Edmonton has had contributions from key partners, he said Saskatoon doesn’t have nearly that number of corporate partners and said he thinks all of the costs will be passed on to the city.

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“You have a chance to get it right,” Black said.

“So spend the time to do the due diligence carefully and do the job thoughtfully through your hometown lens.”

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