SBD/July 18, 2012/Facilities

Edmonton Votes To Develop New Oilers Arena Design; Cuts Weighed For Current Model

Edmonton execs fear cutting budget would take away from the arena's design
The city of Edmonton has "voted to develop a new design" for the Oilers' new downtown arena, "providing project planners can keep it under" C$450M, according to Angelique Rodrigues of the EDMONTON SUN. The current cost estimate for the proposed arena is C$35M -- or 8% -- "over budget, but admin have built in a contingency, identified around" C$17M cost-saving cuts, and "still have a plus or minus variance of 20%." The motion to allow planners "to develop a schematic design for the 775,000-sq-ft arena eventually passed 10-3." While Council member Kerry Diotte "supports a new arena, he remains skeptical of what trimming it’s budget could mean for the overall product." Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel "echoed Diotte’s concern that budget cuts could jeopardize the integrity of the design -- one that’s been called 'iconic' and 'first rate.'" Mandel said, "We’ve heard time and time from citizens, they don’t want us to build anything for crap. They want us to build a good building, so I think at some point in time council is going to have to decide if it is going to be over, what is the overage is going to look like." Mandel was "adamant that the city, administration and developers need to work together to provide a product Edmontonians can be proud of." The current cost estimate for the arena sits at C$485M, "not including additional developments like an LRT link and a winter garden." Edmonton City Manager Simon Farbrother told council that officials have "already identified a pathway to bring the design under budget" (EDMONTON SUN, 7/18). In Edmonton, John MacKinnon noted excavation is "slated to begin in January 2013 with a view to completion by the fall of 2015, so the Oilers can skate there to start the 2015-16 NHL season" (EDMONTONJOURNAL.com, 7/17).

TRIMMING THE FAT?
 ICON Venue Group President Tim Romani, whose company is serving as project manager for the arena, said that ICON is "looking at a variety of changes that will save money as they continue to fine-tune the arena design, something he called a normal part of the process." In Edmonton, Gordon Kent notes the changes "include using a stainless steel exterior instead of zinc, reducing restaurant space, removing the Oilers team offices and team store, shrinking dressing rooms and chopping underground parking to 200 stalls from 400." Although city council members voted "to continue developing the design, there were concerns about the lack of stores and restaurants to create activity at street level." Council member Tony Caterina voted "against carrying on with a plan he has supported." He suspects that the city council will "allow the price to rise above the current maximum, which is covered by [C]$125 million from taxes on downtown growth and other city money," C$100M from Oilers Owner Daryl Katz and a C$125M ticket tax. The city "hopes the province will provide" the remaining C$100M (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 7/18).
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Edmonton Oilers, Facilities, NHL

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