It was -23 degrees outside, but that didn’t stop hundreds of Edmontonians eager to visit the future home of the Oilers, Rogers Place, this past Saturday.
Still over half a year from completion and located in the city’s downtown core, Rogers Place will seat 18,500 spectators and 20,000 concertgoers. The arena and attached Winter Garden are estimated to cost the city $536.5 million. The entire Ice District project also includes a LRT connection, pedway and downtown community rink to be used for Oilers practice and MacEwan Griffins games.
MacEwan student Jessica Johnson was very happy to get a first look. The construction of Rogers Place is already starting to change downtown, she said.
“I think the city is just really revitalizing,” Johnson said. “I’ve already noticed, just going to school, that it’s just such a different crowd that’s excited to come here now. Before, downtown had such a stigma that it was kind of getting run down.”
The Winter Garden, which will encompass 24,000 square feet of public meeting space, is the main differentiating structure between Rexall Place and Rogers Place. The “tip of the oil drop” will serve as a queuing space where fans can stay warm indoors while waiting to enter a game or concert — right now, increased security can sometimes make Rexall Place’s lines stretch into the cold outside. A corridor system will also connect the Winter Garden to the MacEwan LRT.
MacEwan student Mamoon Bhuiyan was just happy to check out Rogers Place as an Oilers fan. Though he wished Rogers Place was a little further along in construction, the sneak peak was still “amazing,” he said.
“I was born and raised here, so I’ve been watching hockey my whole life,” Bhuiyan said. “It’s actually pretty amazing (to see the new venue.)”
If you missed Saturday’s sneak peek tour, you can still watch a live stream of the lower bowl construction.