The Griff

Observations on the Rogers Place open house

Downtown

Observations on the Rogers Place open house

The Ice District is heating up

Downtown Edmonton has officially joined the 21st century with the opening of the new arena, Rogers Place.

Over 57,000 enthusiastic Edmontonians attended the open house on September 10th to get their first look at the venue that will host some of the biggest acts in the world, and it made a strong first impression.

“It was just incredible to see the size difference between Rogers and Rexall,” said MacEwan student Nicole Humeniuk. “The mural was pretty impressive.”

Before making their way to the gates, Rogers Place attendees walk through Ford Hall. The 24,000 square foot public concourse has wavy walls, a slanted ceiling and many windows. In the middle of the white room is Tsa tsa ke k’e (Iron Foot Place), a colourful mosaic with a 15-metre diameter designed by Alberta artist Alex Janvier.

The spaciousness of Ford Hall is a consistent trait throughout the arena. No longer will hockey fans dread the idea of making their way through a jam-packed concourse just to grab a beverage between periods.

With wide halls, 11 bars, 16 permanent concession locations, 16 portable stands and 300 beer taps, patrons will be evenly distributed throughout the building. There are also many tables and chairs available for those who do not wish to immediately return to their seat.

“It’s really open so you can see the game even when you’re getting food,” said Humeniuk.

However, there is a bit of a catch to the accessible concessions. Food and drinks are quite expensive: Prices range from four dollars for a cup of coffee to seven dollars and fifty cents for a Gatorade, all the way up to $15 for a cheeseburger and fries. The most devastating news is probably that a cold beer will cost customers $11.

With concession locations named after Edmonton locations, such as Jasper Ave Eatery, Whitemud Kitchen and Whyte Ave Bistro, Rogers Place has a proud and local feel.

Rogers Place is the home of the Edmonton Oilers before anything else. Images of hockey Hall of Famers such as Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri and Glen Sather, as well as some classic Ryan Smyth moments, are posted on the walls. There are also huge portraits of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, in addition to Oilers copper bar tops.

On game days, the arena will have the capacity to hold quite the crowd — Hockey games will seat 18,500 people, while concerts will hold closer to 20,000.

There also does not appear to be a bad seat in the house. The modern-looking black chairs range from 19 to 22 inches wide, and the upper deck has a steeper incline than most venues so even the highest seats have clear sight-lines.

Wrapping around the upper and lower decks are drink rails with their own chairs as well. This means there are very few walls separating the arena from the concession areas.

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Extra seating with tables. Photo by Thai Sirikoone.

Approximately $110 million was spent on electronics, so there is no shortage of innovative use of technology. Over 1,200 high definition televisions line the hallways and suites, so attendees never have to miss a moment of the action.

Rogers Place is the home of the Edmonton Oilers before anything else.

Perhaps the most visually impressive of the technological advances is the new scoreboard. At 14 metres tall, 11 metres wide and over 90,000 pounds, it is approximately four times the size of the scoreboard at Rexall Place and the largest in the NHL.

Rogers Place also features the Sky Lounge, which is one of the more intriguing additions to the arena. The Rogers Place website describes it as “a trendy two level premium club located above the end of the ice surface, featuring a full service bar, in seat beverage service, and all inclusive food through a variety of culinary choices.”

The Sky Lounge will only be accessible for members holding a proprietary Sky Lounge ticket during the event. Afterwards it will open to the public, transforming the area into a unique club that includes a DJ and dance floor.

To accommodate the high traffic entering the building, there will be 30 points of entry able to take approximately 4,000 to 6,000 people per security line. Approximately 150 security officers will work each event.

Overall, Rogers Place is a modern and exciting addition to the city of Edmonton. It is sure to leave a lasting impression on all of those who visit. A list of upcoming events is available on the Rogers Place website.

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Stairs up to the main gates. Photo by Thai Sirikoone.

Some of the events include:

Drake & Future’s Summer Sixteen Tour, September 20th & 21st, 2016

The Dixie Chicks with Elle King, September 29th, 2016

Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour, October 15th, 2016

Amy Schumer, November 30th, 2016

and of course, Oilers hockey games all season long.

Photos by Thai Sirikoone.