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OEG approaches City of Edmonton on partnership for Ice District plaza

An artist's rendering of the Ice District development in downtown Edmonton.
An artist's rendering of the Ice District development in downtown Edmonton. Supplied by Katz Group/OEG

The Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) has approached the City of Edmonton, looking to strike a deal on the about-to-be-created plaza south of Rogers Place that will be nestled in amongst all of the new high-rise towers in Ice District.

City council was briefed on the proposal behind closed doors on Wedneday, during the private portion of this week’s council meeting.

Councillor Scott McKeen said he can’t say much about the agenda item — titled “Public Plaza Enhancement Opportunity – Ice District” — other than to confirm that talks are underway about what would be a gathering place.

“It’s a negotiation right now. I think that plaza was always built to be that anyways, as a gathering place. What the potential would be for various things and access to that is what we’re going to be, I guess, negotiating,” he said.

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“If there’s good public benefit from a partnership, then I think that’s incumbent on us to at least look at that, but it’s public benefit,” McKeen stressed.

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“And you could describe that in many different ways, but if it’s private space and it walks and talks and acts like a private space, then the City of Edmonton’s probably not all that interested in contributing in any way to it.”

McKeen said there is some urgency on OEG’s part because plans are being finalized for the fourth tower and podium that is planned for the former Greyhound station to the west. The Stantec Tower, and the J. W. Marriott tower, along with the Edmonton Tower, have created more than $1 billion more than what the Katz Group originally promised for the arena plan.

Watch below: On May 8, 2018, Vinesh Pratap got a look inside the J.W. Marriott tower.

JW Marriott tower dominates Edmonton skyline
JW Marriott tower dominates Edmonton skyline

“I think it’d be inconsiderate, if you will, to kick any idea that the OEG brings to us, just back at them with out considering it — so we’re going to look at it,” McKeen said.

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“We’ll talk to them about what their aspirations are, and then let them know what any city aspirations are.”

READ MORE: Amenities for 3rd tower coming to Edmonton’s Ice District yet to be determined: Katz Group

A report in the Las Vegas Review Journal suggested that World Cup soccer bids had to have the host cities supply two outdoor venues to accommodate 20,000 spectators with viewing screens. McKeen confirmed that was not part of what was discussed.

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He also said there’s a wide range of views on city council about what OEG is presenting.

“You’ve got very diverse opinions on city council, from hopeful and optimistic to downright cynical.”

McKeen said some of the longtime members of city council remember earlier negotiations.

The city has been watching this space in Ice District. Concerns date back to the 2017 Oilers playoff run where public washroom concerns were first raised.

Council voted Wednesday to continue talks. OEG did not respond to a message looking for comment.