Edmonton downtown arena doors open for public sneak peek

Click to play video 'Rogers Place sneak peak' Rogers Place sneak peak
Sarah Kraus takes us on a tour of the soon to be- new home of the Edmonton Oilers – Jan 16, 2016

EDMONTON – It’s still a few months before people will fill Edmonton’s new downtown arena for an actual event, but on Saturday the public was given the opportunity to get an early glimpse inside the facility.

The City of Edmonton hosted the three-hour long sneak peek of Rogers Place, as Edmonton Oilers fans and curious residents lined up outside before the doors opened – despite the cold weather.

“I just wanted to be one of the first people to see it as it’s being built. Kind of experience center ice,” said Oilers fan Marc Marchand from his spot near the front of the line-up.

READ MORE: Take a tour inside Edmonton’s Rogers Place

Once inside the public had a first-hand look at the progress being made by the 1,000 workers on site on an average day – and they weren’t disappointed.

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“I love it, everything! From top to bottom, even the top of this, it’s beautiful. I don’t even know how to describe it,” exclaimed Rose Waldner. “I’m just glad I came.”

It’s not only hockey Edmontonians are excited about. Connie Dmytriw’s jaw dropped when she saw the transformation happening in the city’s downtown core.

“Now it’s opening up again, creating so many opportunities. It’s the best thing that could happen,” she said.

That’s what Rick Daviss, the arena project’s executive director hoped he would hear.

“I’m extremely proud, relieved. It’s been a long haul and we’re not done yet. You can look around and we still have a lot of work to do,” Daviss said.

PCL Construction noted the structure of the bowl is already done, and construction of the entire arena is about 70 per cent complete.

Most recently crews have been working on team spaces and concessions, but a few big pieces, including seating and the score-clock, have yet to be installed.

READ MORE: Headway being made on Edmonton’s downtown arena

Saturday’s tour included viewing of the Downtown Community Arena, the other arena being built in the city’s ICE District. That’s where the Edmonton Oilers will practice and the public will be invited to watch.

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Changes were recently revealed to the community rink, showing significant differences between the concepts originally envisioned during the contentious arena debates of 2012 and the coming reality.

The community rink is part of the overall $600 million project, which is on time and on budget.

The land where Rogers Place now stands has certainly changed a great deal in three years.

Plot of land in the area of 104 Avenue between 101 Street and 104 Street, January 2013. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

Rogers Place is scheduled to open in September, 2016, in time for the Edmonton Oilers 2016-2017 season.