As the Capitals get set to embark on their annual loop of western Canada, the first stop in this year’s sojourn will include a visit to the newest arena in the NHL. And this is not just any arena.
The Edmonton Oilers have one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. Winning 5 of 7 Stanley Cups in the 1980’s, and home to “The Great One”, to name just a few of the items on their resume.
This year the Oilers will add possibly the greatest hockey venue to their resume. Rogers Place officially replaced Northlands Coliseum (AKA, Rexall Place, opened 1974) as the home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers on September 8th, 2016.
Construction started in March of 2014, with the facility officially opening on September 8th, 2016. The arena has a seating capacity of 18,641 for Edmonton Oilers games.
Roger’s Place was originally estimated to cost approximately $450 million to complete. However, the final cost came in around almost $615 million – a price tag shared by city taxpayers, ticket buyers and the Oilers.
The new facility joins the Grand Villa Edmonton Casino and the Glen Sather Community Arena, which provides a home for the MacEwan University Griffins and a practice facility for the Oilers and the Western Hockey League’s Oil Kings.
The Edmonton Journal detailed the long and arduous joruney. “The downtown arena has been an emotional flashpoint in Edmonton for more than a decade, bringing forth our greatest anxieties and most ardent desires. Some look at the arena project and see doom, stagnation and the incompetence and naivete of our local politicians. Others see prosperity, growth and a coldly calculated but visionary bet on the future of our downtown.”
The Journal article stated that “a great many folks held a principled objection to using public dollars to finance an arena for a billionaire owner and millionaire players. Others felt there was nothing wrong with Rexall Place, that it was a fine building with decades of life in it. They also believed that any talk of something as mundane as a hockey arena revitalizing a downtown was ludicrous. As the noted economist Brad Humphreys, an expert in arena funding, put it in October 2007: “Subsidies for the construction and operation of professional sports facilities cannot be viewed as a viable economic revitalization strategy for our cities.”
Roger’s Place is the cornerstone of a comprehensive masterplan to revitalize a portion of the city’s downtown, and early results look positive. In what has been branded the ICE District, a hive of business towers, condos, and hotels, are slowly taking shape, quite similar to the development of the Navy Yard in and around Nationals Park in DC.
Inside the new facility it is simply state of the art. Front and center is a massive, high-definition scoreboard that spans blue-line to blue-line (measuring 46 feet wide, 46 feet deep, and 36 feet high). This is now the largest high-definition scoreboard in any NHL arena.
Between the lower and upper seating areas are exclusive executive suites, theatre suites and loge seats. At the far end is a sports bar and an after-hours club. Between the blue-lines in the lower bowl are 850 custom-designed, wider club seats, with exclusive lounge access.
Tour of the Locker Rooms:
COST OF A GAME
As expected, the cost to attend a game is higher than Rexall Place. In some cases, the cost can be double for a similarly located seat. A season ticket in the corner nosebleeds is $2,600. Sitting near the boards near center ice for the year will cost $9,765 a seat.
As of Tuesday morning, ticket costs for the Capitals game on Wednesday range from $65 for a corner nosebleed to $270 for a seat on the glass.
A VIDEO TOUR
The Oilers officially opened their home on October 12th, 2016 against the Calgary Flames. Below, strategically placed T-shirts form an Edmonton Oilers logo on opening night.
Life-long Washington Capitals fan and Edmonton resident Marcus Boutilier was one of the first few lucky patrons to visit the new arena, and was kind enough to give us his impressions.
“I have been to a couple of games already. The WHL Oil Kings was the first game ever at Rogers, and the Sabres/Oilers game last Sunday. It is more comforting than ole’ Recall Place, that’s for sure.
I’d say the jumbo tron is most catching. It’s huge. Largest true HD scoreboard in NHL. You can get lost watching it instead of the game itself! It’s 46ft x 46ft by 36ft.
Also, the new Sportsnet lounge allows for an all-you-can-eat section and a night club that stays open after game is over.
Overall, it’s beautiful, but there have been some minor issues. A do not re-enter policy is concerning to some and of course there are signage still going up and some issues with more men’s washrooms than women’s (yes that’s true).
But overall, the arena, as part of the Ice District, it is spectacular. Can’t wait for it to be complete in couple years.”
Edmonton’s new facility looks to be a great place to experience the game of hockey. Las Vegas will officially become the newest NHL venue next fall.
By Jon Sorensen