April 30, 2014 12:56 pm

Gretzky statue will be moved to downtown arena

Watch above: Once Rogers Place opens downtown, the Wayne Gretzky statue will follow the team to the new location. Tom Vernon looks at the debate.

EDMONTON – It looks like the iconic statue of Wayne Gretzky outside Rexall Place will be moving.

“It’s my understanding is that the Gretzky statue will move to the new building when the new building opens,” Mayor Don Iveson said Wednesday.

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The life-sized bronze statue of #99 holding the Stanley Cup over his head was erected outside outside the former Northlands Coliseum on August 27, 1989. The infamous Gretzky trade happened the year before.

READ MORE: The Gretzky Trade: 25 years later 

The topic of moving the statue has been a contentious one.

“Citizens are really of two minds about this. I’ve heard from those that think it should be where he played and that’s hallowed ground, and I understand that point of view.

“But most other people I’ve heard from think it should be where the team is; because that’s where the active spirit of the Oilers, and the new future that they’re going to create in the new building, will reside.”

Iveson doesn’t know where the Gretzky statue will be put in the new downtown arena, or how much it will cost to move it.

Last year, it was said that the move would have to be approved by Molson‘s, which paid $75,000 for the statue.

Then-mayor, Stephen Mandel, said he didn’t want it to go.

“The statue, in my humble opinion, belongs to the land on which it sits, which is Northlands. I don’t think it should be moved,” he said.

In a statement to the Edmonton Journal last year, Gretzky said he didn’t want to wade into the issue.

“I’m truly honoured that the City of Edmonton chose to erect a statue in my honour, and I certainly respect their decision on whether or not to move it. I’m behind whatever decision they make 100 per cent.”

The new arena is scheduled to open in time for the 2016 NHL season.

TMS debates: Should the statue of “The Great One” be moved from Rexall Place?

© Shaw Media, 2014

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