February 17, 2016 2:06 pm
Updated: February 22, 2016 6:43 pm

New $165M vision for Northlands includes 7-sheet ice facility, outdoor concert space

WATCH ABOVE: Northlands unveiled bold plans for the future of the site which include three major renovation projects. Vinesh Pratap reports.

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EDMONTON — Plans for the future of Northlands include everything from a lacrosse field and outdoor concert space, to indoor and outdoor skating rinks.

Northlands unveiled “Vision 2020” Wednesday morning; its proposal for the site once the Edmonton Oilers vacate Rexall Place at the end of the hockey season.

The redevelopment plans include three major projects, one of which includes the renovation of Rexall Place into the “Northlands Ice Coliseum.”

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With seven sheets of ice on two levels, it’s hoped the Northlands Ice Coliseum will turn Edmonton into the hockey tournament capital of Canada. The ice surfaces could also be converted into indoor volleyball courts, or lacrosse and soccer fields.

READ MORE: Cost of transforming Northlands pegged at $85M 

The plan for the site also includes converting the racetrack and casino into an urban festival site. Northlands believes the site could be used for festivals, midways, even rodeos. The area will also be used for “massive scale concerts” with space for upwards of 140,000 people.

“It’s with mixed emotions today that we talk about our partnership with horse racing,” Northlands President and CEO Tim Reid said.

“2016 will be our last year in the horse racing business.”

Reid said 2016 will also be the last year the Canadian Finals Rodeo will be held at Rexall Place. Negotiations are underway to have the event moved to Rogers Place, Reid added.

READ MORE: Future of horse racing up in the air in Alberta

Northlands is also proposing turning Hall D inside the Edmonton Expo Centre into a 5,000-seat concert space and sports arena. The proposal outlines plans to raise the ceiling 16 metres so it can be used for minor hockey tournaments, professional lacrosse games, small indoor rodeos and other sporting events.

“Northlands’ realities have changed and we needed to find new ways to serve our community, as we have for over 137 years,” Reid said. “We listened closely to what our city needed and what we could realistically provide – Vision 2020 is the result.”

There’s also room for food service and retail space.

“This is not an all or nothing project. It is three ideas that can be considered,” Reid said.

Proposed plans for Northlands unveiled Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

Graphic by Tonia Huynh, Global News

Watch below: Northlands President and CEO Tim Reid speaks about ‘Vision 2020’

Mayor Don Iveson was on hand for the announcement Wednesday. He congratulated Northlands on its “bold new vision to repurpose their existing facilities.”

“Ultimately, these are very, very creative proposals,” Iveson said.

Reid said the cost of the redevelopment plans breaks down as follows: approximately $85 million for Rexall Place, $45 million for the festival site and $35 million for Hall D.

Iveson said the next step for the city and council is to see a more detailed financial analysis from Northlands to determine exactly what’s being asked of the City of Edmonton.

“It will have to, in a difficult financial environment, compete against other priorities and other issues that the City of Edmonton needs to resolve from an infrastructure point of view,” Iveson said.

“However, to the extent that some of these proposals could be revenue neutral or close to revenue neutral, or can demonstrate the strength of their business case, then I think there’s certainly possibility for them to contend favourably against other priorities in the fiscal environment that we’re in.”

Watch below: Mayor Don Iveson weighs in on the new vision for Northlands 

If funding is found, work on the outdoor festival site and Hall D could start next year, and the Ice Coliseum by 2018.

The concept will go to city council on March 15.

It’s hoped the design plans will spur conversation among Edmontonians. To have your say on the plans, visit Northlands’ website to fill out an online survey.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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