NHL playoff fever is heating up in Edmonton, and downtown businesses are feeling relief at the thought of Edmonton Oilers fans flooding the area.
“It’s going to be exciting,” said Rick Weidemann, assistant general manager at The Pint.
“Every bar is going to be packed, and after the games are over you’re going to have a lot of energy on the streets — people walking around, going from Place A to Place B.”
It’s been five years since Oilers fans have been able to gather and celebrate inside Rogers Place for a playoff game.
Fans with 2022/23 season tickets will have access to purchase playoff tickets, but the team is also running a draw to give fans a chance to purchase playoff tickets by the round.
But for those who can’t get their hands on tickets, there will be other ways to support the team and enjoy the atmosphere.
“We are so excited to have the fans back,” said Stu Ballantyne, Rogers Place and ICE District president and COO.
“We’re going to activate Molson Hockey House in Ford Hall… and make sure it’s much larger so people can watch in there.”
The area outside Rogers Place in Ice District Plaza will also be a space for fans to watch the games on the big screen.
Half of the plaza will be designated 18+ with a beer garden, and there will be family-friendly areas on the outskirts.
On away games, Rogers Place will also host watch parties in the main arena.
“We’ve hosted watch parties (before) in 2017,” Ballantyne said. “We’re looking forward to doing that. The building was quite full, it’s an enjoyable experience.
“(It’s) a great place for everyone to celebrate, really enjoy this, ‘let’s go Oilers’ celebration as we go through playoffs.”
Weidemann said while he’s looking forward to a busy pub, he’s also just as excited for those who have never joined in the playoff hype to get their fill of the fan atmosphere.
“There’s so many people that have not had the opportunity to experience it,” said Weidemann. “I’m lucky enough to be old enough to have experienced a bunch of them.
“I just want everyone to enjoy what happens here, because it’s some of the best memories out there.”
Officials at Rogers Place are waiting for the playoff schedule to drop before releasing the tickets for the away game watch parties. They will be $5, with proceeds going to charity.