All About the Ice DistrictTagged: Sports,Entertainment,Attractions,Nightlife,Dining,Restaurants Posted on: 01 October 2016
The Coliseum in Rome; Madison Square Gardens in Manhattan; London’s Wembley Stadium. There are a few sports arenas that define a city and have strong roots to its identity. They also at one time or another had such a game-changing presence on the modern sporting venue that it influenced many of the buildings that would come after it. You are probably thinking this is all hyperbole and who would have the audacity to compare the likes of Rome, London, and New York to Edmonton. But until you actually see the new Rogers Place arena, home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, in the flesh, you will never understand how this spectacular place is redefining the city and pushing the envelope of the modern day arena. It’s not only an architectural and technological masterpiece, but it is also the epicentre of the new Ice District and the catalyst for an entire downtown renaissance.
The Arena Itself
The new Rogers Place looks futuristic in every sense. The outside façade has a metallic sleekness that resembles a scene from Terminator 2. The main building soars into the sky with windows allowing for natural light to pour into it. It’s a far cry from the concrete-enclosed fortress that is Northlands Coliseum (Rexall Place). The ability to see in and out of the complex through numerous vantage points is important in instilling a sense of life and vibrancy within a venue of this magnitude. One of the other exterior features that stands out is the impressive walkway that spans across 104th Avenue. It provides a gateway to the Ice District and connects the rink to nearby attractions. Plus, it’s a convenient way to walk to and from the rink in those cold winter evenings without having to brave the elements.
Inside, there are numerous features that make this gem stand out. The largest true high-definition centre ice scoreboard in the NHL, the over 1,200 TV screens throughout the building, and hooking up to WI-FI wherever you are is part of the technological experience. Plus throw in some unique Loge seating, the high-end Theatre Box seating that has upscale written all over it, or the trendy Sky Lounge that is a nightclub where a hockey game happens to break out. The fan experience options are endless and going to a game or concert has now been transformed. Essentially everything that you have seen as first-class in new venues around the world has been integrated within Rogers Place.
The Community rink
Part of the plan and legacy of the new rink was not just to get an ice surface for the pros. The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation also built an adjacent hockey rink and complex for the public to use. The ice surface will be a practice facility for the Oilers and Oil Kings, but will also serve as the home for the MacEwan University hockey teams. It’ll also be available for rental for community hockey teams.
There once stood a desolate stretch of 104th where one building had some lights that resembled half glitter and half desperation. It was known as the Baccarat Casino. And although it did its best to attract people downtown, the odds were stacked against the house. But with the new Ice District, comes another high stakes gaming facility attached to the arena. This time, its polished, sophisticated, and has the support of the infrastructure surrounding it to attract people to the bright lights. The Grand Villa Casino is open for business and features 60,000 square feet of world-class gaming, dining and live entertainment. Slide up to a table of your choice and let’s hope you have more wins than the Oilers.
The Neighbourhood – development of shops, restaurants and bars – life downtown.
As impressive as the district already is, what may be even more impressive is the sights of progress surrounding it, one towering crane in the sky at a time. Looking at the residential and commercial development around the area suggests that this is not your parents’ downtown Edmonton any longer. This city is growing up, and like any metropolis that wants to be taken seriously, it starts right at the core. New restaurants, cafes, and bars are popping up all around. People are walking the streets, day and night. And there is life here. There’s no denying it. The Ice District is hot!