City council has landed on the idea of converting the Coliseum into a six-plex for hockey, lacrosse, indoor soccer or other recreational sport uses. Council passed a motion to get the ball rolling on that concept, wrapping up Tuesday a public hearing on the Vision 2020 report prepared by Northlands.
A lot of questions were raised in a sort of chicken and egg way of thinking about how to design the six-plex with potential user groups. Council expressed some urgency to the administration that answers are needed quickly.
“I don’t want this to take three bloody years,” said Mayor Don Iveson. Initial answers will be back on a concept plan by April of next spring.
“For me this doesn’t seem as complicated. Either you’re going to tear it down or your going to build some version of a six-plex,” said Coun. Michael Oshry who also serves as a board member for Northlands. “It’s not like we’re starting from scratch and ‘what are we going to do with the building?'”
“I think the motion of the six-plex has got traction now,” said city manager Linda Cochrane. “I think knowing how much amateur sport needs that, we have to look at what’s possible outside our typical user groups for subsidized ice in Edmonton. And we can do that.”
Bob Nicholson, with the Oilers Entertainment Group has even helped pave the way for some daytime ice rental. He’s done some introductions to the Mayor’s office with former colleagues with Hockey Canada on the creation of a hockey academy.
“That line of communication has been open and Bob’s been great make those introductions,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “He, I think, can be a linchpin in putting something really creative there.”
Work will continue to coordinate trade show and convention business between the Expo Centre and the Shaw Conference said Iveson said.
The question of horse racing’s future has been put on the back burner for the time being. Council was told that it’s premature to anticipate using Northlands as a temporary home during the anticipated two years it’ll take for Horse Racing Alberta to find a new home in the Metro Edmonton area.
And now that the initial steps are being taken on how to use the 160 acres of Northlands, now that’s getting out of the concert business with this month’s opening of Rogers Place downtown, Northlands intends on sharing with the city, its work on finding developers to build out the grounds with hotels, retail, and housing.
“I think that’s where the discussion around development, particularly around hotels can plug in,” said Northlands CEO Tim Reid, after the Northlands board asked for and got 28 expressions of interest in developing the property. Six companies remain in the process.
“We’ve done an incredible amount of work evaluating those six short listed candidates,” Reid said. “Some are very appropriate for hotel development. I think what we can do now is bring the city to the table for that discussion and allow it to see if it fits with in their vision.”
Both Reid and Iveson said that hotel revenue would benefit Northlands’ bottom line either as a partner facility to the six-plex, or the Expo Centre.
Another question that has been raised involves the score-clock that hangs above centre ice. Council has asked to find a new home for it, or if it can be sold. Once the Oilers make their final payment on what was once a $4.5 million item, there will be $500,000 of debt remaining on it.
Reid said a problem with it, is you can’t find components for the video screen because the technology has quickly changed on it.