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Garth Brooks concerts pump $42M into Edmonton’s economy

Rogers Place Arena, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers, is shown in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday September 7, 2016. .
Rogers Place Arena, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers, is shown in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday September 7, 2016. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Since the opening of Rogers Place, police calls in the area are up, but the severity of incidents is down, according to a new report. Transit and parking problems aren’t as bad as first feared and the spin off on the economy has been measurable.

A City of Edmonton report on Rogers Place and the arena district boasts that the nine sold-out Garth Brooks shows generated $42 million into the local economy. That information was provided by the Oilers Entertainment Group Thursday.

There have been 70 Oilers and Oil King hockey games, 28 live event nights and 81 corporate and community events.

READ MORE: More than 4,300 kegs tapped at Rogers Place in first 6 months

Other financial indicators show $1.5 people have come through the doors since opening, prompting attendance targets to be upgraded from two million visitors a year, to three million starting in 2017.

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Watch below: Sea of Garth Brooks fans in downtown Edmonton between concerts at Rogers Place

Garth Brooks concert turnaround in downtown Edmonton
Garth Brooks concert turnaround in downtown Edmonton

Nearby, the amount of “vacant or underdeveloped land within the downtown has been reduced from 52 per cent in 2012 to 40 per cent in 2016,” the report said.

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Part of what paid for the place, the downtown community revitalization levy (CRL), remains at a mid-target range. It’s projected to raise $702 million in the 20 years between 2015 and 2034, reaching a new benchmark in 2019 of $58.2 million. The CRL is educational property tax uplift diverted from the province over a two-decade period, and used for utility upgrades and other amenities like parks, as well as the arena in the downtown.

“While there has been a drop in the assessment base in the downtown as a result of the soft economic environment in the province, the amount of new development in the downtown and the rate at which it is occurring continues to provide new tax growth,” the report said.

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Edmonton police report more crime and calls for service in the immediate area of Rogers Place, however a growing proportion of that is from officers initiating a call, since calls from the public have dropped by 7.8 per cent.

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“The most serious types of crime (assaults and other violent and property crimes) have decreased,” the report said.

“The increase in calls for service had been anticipated, and was addressed with changes to resource deployment and scheduling accordingly.”

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Alberta Health Services reports about a five per cent decrease in calls in the area, compared to the same six months from the previous year. That’s for both emergency and non-emergency situations.

The 24/7 Crisis Diversion Team deals with the at-risk population, working with mental health, addictions issues and other non-police-emergency problems on event nights. It is averaging about 334 calls a month.

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More people, it seems, took LRT to Rexall Place than to Rogers Place. Peace officers show a 15 per cent drop in ridership, based on counts done at the Bay/Enterprise and MacEwan LRT stations.

After all the predictions of parking chaos, the report said current spots are being used. There was a worry about the library parkade, because of other events in the arts district, but those anticipated issues haven’t happened.

“Usage has not exceeded 80 per cent of capacity at any time since the arena has opened, and rates remain unchanged at $10 for the evening,” the report said.

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READ MORE: Parking downtown Edmonton just got more expensive on Rogers Place event nights

For those who park illegally, since the opening of Rogers Place, 7,100 parking tickets have been issued, mostly around the ePark vending machines, but also in handicapped zones, and for infractions like parking too close to an intersection.