With Edmonton’s new downtown arena just a couple of months away from opening, plans are being made to adjust to what is expected to be a significant increase in traffic, parking and people in the area.
The City of Edmonton and the Oilers Entertainment Group hosted an information session Wednesday to talk to downtown residents and businesses about the coming changes.
For months now, the City of Edmonton and Oilers Entertainment Group have been working to address issues expected to come up as the arena becomes a key tenant in the city’s core.
“We have to be honest that there are going to be some hiccups,” Ronna Bremer-Todd, with the City of Edmonton, said. “What we’re building into our system is some flexibility that we can hopefully adapt quickly on those things. So, if something goes wrong on the first day, we might need to tweak that.”
Jon Hall, who has lived in downtown Edmonton for 14 years, attended an information session on the new arena Wednesday but said while curious about the impact, he’s not too worried about what the future holds.
“I’ve never been concerned about the Rogers Place and what it’s going to do to us,” he said. “It’s just going to amp the volume up a little bit.”
But it’s not just the arena that is likely to change traffic flows, the development of the Ice District around the area will also have an impact as a lot of construction is set to take place in the area for years.
“We are dealing with road closures and some roads that are not even finished,” Stu Ballantyne with the Oilers Entertainment Group said. “We have a pedestrian access portal across the construction site to allow people to get in through the normal routes of Rogers Place.”
Edmontonians will get a better sense of the changes coming to downtown when Rogers Place hosts an open house on Sept. 10.
The arena, estimated to cost just over $600 million, will be home to both the Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Oil Kings and is already scheduled to host a number of high-profile entertainers as well.
Rogers Place will open in September, with the Edmonton Oilers playing their first NHL pre-season game at the arena on Sept. 26 against the Calgary Flames.
On Oct. 12, the Oilers will host the Flames on the opening night of the 2016-17 NHL season.
-With files from Vinesh Pratap.