February 13 2014 09:58PM
I'm completely on board with the necessary checks and balances that come with a project like Rogers Place, but after rattling around the old barn since 1989, I was happy to give cynicism a rest this week when it was announced the $480-million guaranteed maximum price had been met and that shovels will go in the ground in March.
With mayor Don Iveson and Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz addressing the assembled crowd at city hall, delivering positive spin about a project that will transform downtown, there wasn't a lot of meat to the matter or details delivered. That's been done to get the downtown project to this point after years of debate and it will continue as the project moves along. As it should.
I am, and always have been, of the mind a downtown arena district is a good and overdue idea for Edmonton. I'm of that mind today. There are those who have always felt differently, and do today. I'm OK with that, just as I was OK with the shiny, good news delivered this week devoid of more debate or much real detail or rehash of what's been agreed to.
ABOUT THE NEW JOINT . . .
I listened with interest as Jason Gregor had team president Patrick LaForge on today to talk about the new joint, and a couple of things he said grabbed my attention.
LaForge talked about having an area of the arena that will host a series of different displays, including the possibility of running collections of Oiler memorabilia from different collectors – from hardcore guys like the fellow from Fort McMurray with what's billed as the greatest Wayne Gretzky collection on the planet, to more modest offerings from avid fans -- for a month or two at a time.
That's sounds like a pretty good start on making the new rink more fan friendly than Rexall Place, which, truth be told, isn’t that fan friendly at all, save for decent sightlines from the seats, even by today's NHL standards.
I'd like to think that Oilersnation could come up with truckload of stuff worthy of display -- beyond the bags of Jordan Eberle's hair and underwear lint Wanye has gathering the last several years. I'd be interested to hear from any of our readers who have a collection of note.
THIS AND THAT . . .
. . . Based on what LaForge told Gregor, it sounds like the Oilers having to wade through fans collected outside the dressing room in the lower lounge on the way to the ice will be a thing of the past in the new place. The new configuration won't include that gauntlet.
. . . Most of the seats in the rink will be 19 inches wide, an inch wider than the seats in Rexall Place. There will also be 1,000 seats scattered throughout the place that are 21 inches wide for those requiring more room. Recliners in the press box will be increased to 32 inches wide . . . I keed.
. . . A lot of the better arenas around the NHL have incorporated statues around the rink to honor the greats who have played there. Two of the more noteworthy are the United Center in Chicago and Bell Centre in Montreal. Edmonton, of course, has long had the Gretzky statue. Will it make the move to the new place or will be see something new? What would you like to see?
WHILE I'M AT IT . . .
I'm taking my family to Maui for the rest of the Olympic break. Between now and the time I get back, I expect Canada to shake itself from the coma induced by today's 3-1 yawner over Norway to win the gold medal.
I also expect a large number of Oilersnation stickers to find themselves slapped in conspicuous places around the island, just so the locals get a feel for the reach of Oil Country (photos to follow, of course).
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.