Ten years ago Edmonton was exactly where Calgary is now: debating the merits of a new arena with fierce and vocal public opposition to “spending taxpayer dollars on billionaire owners and millionaire players.” Fast forward ten years and Rogers Place arena has been built, the critics (mostly) silenced, they continue to attract the best concerts and the downtown is on a fast track to revitalization.
The elements of funding the plan were pretty much the same as the ones being proposed by the Calgary Flames organization: a significant owner outlay of dollars, a ticket tax and a Community Revitalization Levy.
After Rogers Place opened, there was a building boom, with an estimated $5 billion in additional development to Edmonton’s core that would not have been there otherwise. The excess revenues from the Community Revitalization Fund can now be used for other core infrastructure.
How did they get the community to buy into the plan? I talk about it with News Talk 770 sports anchor, Dave Rowe, and Edmonton Journal columnist and Oilers fan, David Staples. My full interviews with them are below.