EDMONTON — The cost of transforming Rexall Place into a multi-level ice facility is pegged at $85 million.
Northlands unveiled its vision for the site, including Rexall Place, Wednesday morning. But on Friday, Global News got a better picture of what the future could look like for the facility.
Northlands has a plan that would turn the arena into a two-level facility with upwards of seven sheets of ice.
“It’d be a tournament centre for western Canada, obviously used by hockey teams and figure skating individuals in the city, and it’s just a really exciting plan that could then drive people to the site which would then create all sorts of opportunities for the entire Northlands site,” Ward 5 city councillor Michael Oshry said Friday. Oshry also sits on the Northlands board of directors.
Seating at Rexall would be reduced to between 2,800 and 3,000 to accommodate the additional ice surfaces. A conceptual design picture obtained by Global News shows the vision for the building. Global News has also learned Rexall Place could be renamed “Northlands Ice Coliseum.”
Oshry said the facility would house some retail space, providing a boost for the area. The additional ice space would also serve the city’s needs as there’s always a demand for ice time, he added.
“This is Northlands trying to figure out a purpose for the facility that will drive people to Northlands but also provide a service for tourism, as far as bringing hockey teams in here, but also ice surfaces that are needed in the city,” Oshry said.
“It just creates a vibe in the Northlands area and extra excitement in the city.”
The idea for Rexall Place is just one piece of the overall future of the site.
A survey conducted by Northlands early last year showed the majority of respondents wanted to see Rexall Place re-purposed rather than torn down.
“It’s an incredibly valuable piece of public infrastructure. We bought it for $17 million, we’re realizing that it costs $500 million to replace it. To tear it down would be a shame,” Tim Reid, president and CEO of Northlands, hinted in mid-January.
“It’s a great structure with great bones, great roots and great memory. And we’d like to see it kept in use but we don’t want to see it compete with the downtown arena.”
At this point it’s not known where the money will come from to fund the new vision.
“They’re going to need some financial assistance for something this big,” Oshry said. “There’s talk with the city. There’s talk with some private parties. There’s a will to get this done.”
Northlands said the concept is meant to spur conversation, in hopes of getting people talking about the future of the site.
*Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. It was updated with the cost of the project on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016.