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Volume 22 No. 32
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Rogers Place inspires other development in downtown Edmonton

The Edmonton Oilers have a mandate to develop the NHL’s first LEED Silver arena in Canada, doing so in a market dominated by the oil drilling industry.

The region’s chief economic engine provides an interesting backdrop to the project. To their credit, though, the Oilers committed to setting the bar for a green arena per their deal with the city of Edmonton, which is financing most of the $480 million facility.

Related development around Rogers Place has grown to $1.8 billion.
Photo by: Jeff Nash / Oilers Entertainment Group
Meanwhile, Rogers Place, which is slated to open in the fall of 2016, has already achieved its goal of being a catalyst for redeveloping downtown Edmonton. And with each new neighboring project announced, the Oilers have convinced others to go down the same green path.

As it stands now, related development has grown from an original estimate of $200 million to a whopping $1.8 billion, a number covering both new construction and renovated buildings, said Chris DeVolder, sustainable leader for HOK, the arena’s architect.

“It’s really been a success to date,” DeVolder said. “Everyone was hoping it would be a catalyst, but I don’t think anyone had an idea of how much development would spawn out of it. We’ve heard from other companies that the arena has set the bar for sustainability. From that respect, the idea that any project influences others from an energy efficiency standpoint, alternative transportation with [light rail transit] and pedestrian areas, is really unprecedented, at least that I’m aware of.”

The site of Rogers Place was originally part of the Canadian National Railway system as well as a tannery before it became a surface parking lot. It was a brownfield site that required environmental cleanup before arena construction started, said Shaun Mason, senior director for Icon Venue Group, the firm serving as the owner’s representative. In that respect alone, the arena has been a tremendous upgrade for the city’s downtown district, he said.

Rexall Place, the Oilers’ current home, is part of the Northlands, a sports and entertainment complex outside of

town.

“I live in Edmonton after moving here three years ago for the project,” Mason said. “No offense to downtown, but it didn’t really have a whole lot going for it. A lot of surface parking lots, derelict lots, not much density … right there in the heart of oil country, which of course is not necessarily lauded for green initiatives. I think it was really a good union of a project team in general that wanted to incorporate these green principles in a city that truly focused on them with the [LEED] Silver mandate.”

Mason knows what it takes to develop a green hockey arena. Five years ago, before he was hired by Icon, he worked for Pittsburgh contractor PJ Dick, which teamed with Hunt Construction Group to build Consol Energy Center, the NHL’s first LEED Gold arena.

In Edmonton, Mason is overseeing a project for the Oilers tied to an extensive public transportation network that will feature seven light rail stops within walking distance of the arena once a new line is completed. One light rail station will connect at the facility’s northwest corner.

The arena will have charging stations for electric vehicles. The oil industry has created a lot of wealth locally, and it is not uncommon to see motorists driving Teslas around town, Mason said.

Those who live and work in the downtown district will be able to walk to the arena. In addition, a citywide trail will connect to the arena from points farther out.

Edmonton was among Canada’s first markets to introduce citywide recycling, and to date, about 93 percent of all construction waste has been recycled or reused elsewhere, DeVolder. It’s close to what’s being done in Sacramento (see related story).

“The reality is most of the big sports contractors are doing that as a matter of course,” he said. “It’s part of their culture.”