Edmonton’s city council has unanimously voted to close the Northlands Coliseum.
The future of the facility was discussed Wednesday morning at a city council meeting, before council voted for the city to take over the Coliseum on Jan. 1, 2018 and permanently close the arena.
“The Coliseum will come back to the city because Northlands simply cannot sustain it fiscally,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
“I cannot see another natural outcome,” Ward 11 Councillor Mike Nickel said.
The city will also take over responsibility of Northlands Park within 30 days of the conclusion of the horse-racing season next June.
“We credit the mayor, council and administration for addressing outstanding issues,” Northlands CEO Tim Reid said. “Northlands is committed to the highest degree of professionalism through this transition and ask all involved to respect the impact on our 2,800 employees and 1,500 volunteers.”
The city said discussions are being held that would see Northlands continue to host K-Days and Farmfair International for a minimum of five years.
“It’s still a really important organization to our city,” Iveson said, “its volunteer base, its culture, its links to agri-business are all critical to our economic future.”
The changing of hands will help support revitalization of the neighbourhood surrounding the arena as part work being done on the Coliseum Station Area Redevelopment Plan, city staff said.
The move allows for the renegotiation of the city’s sponsorship agreement with Oilers Entertainment Group of Rogers Place. As part of the agreement, $20 million was set aside. Of that, $3 million was paid out, but the city won’t be responsible for paying the remaining $17 million if the Coliseum is closed.
“In exchange for waiving the sponsorship requirements of the master agreement, the city would have $17 million back to solve some of those challenges potentially,” Iveson said.
“We will have to grapple with the future of the Northlands Coliseum building, which we’ll continue to study and continue to work through as part of the Area Redevelopment Plan process,” the mayor added.
“What exactly happens to the structure — we’re going to need to do some more work on.”
The Coliseum opened in 1974 for the Edmonton Oilers when the team was in the World Hockey Association.
The Oilers won five Stanley Cups in the arena during the 1980s and 1990, before moving to the new Rogers Place in 2016.
The Jan. 1 transition date of the Coliseum coincides with the date the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation will take over operation of the EXPO Centre.
— with files from Emily Mertz