Rexall Place (formerly called Skyreach Centre, Northlands Coliseum and the Edmonton Coliseum) is my home-town rink. I was able to attend one of the very first games there when it opened in 1974. Along with my dad, and some friends who drove up from Calgary, we watched the Houston Aeros featuring Gordie Howe and his two sons Mark and Marty. On the way to the game my dad told me that Gordie Howe could shoot right handed and left handed. Sure enough he demonstrated that trick by holding off a player with his right arm and shooting the puck with his left hand (he is typically
a right handed shot). Our friend from Calgary grew up with Gordie in Saskatchewan and was going to try and go down to the locker room and see if we all could meet him. Unfortunately, there was still too much construction and the arena security would not let us down there.
There were many a time when my friends and I would go to the WHA games at the Coliseum. It was easy, because no one else went. The Coliseum used to seat 17,702 and there was an average of around 7,000 showing up. We used to buy the cheapest seats, wait ten minutes and move down behind the weakest teams net. I'm sure many of you can relate
to moving down during your youth, but did you go behind the nets to maybe catch a puck? We never did catch a puck, but we were always watching so as not to get a puck in the teeth.
I have attended some memorable game's at the Coliseum including that unbelievable night on December 30, 1981. It was a game against the Philadelphia Flyers and Pete Peeters, an Edmonton native, where Wayne Gretzky popped four goals against the Flyers and added a fifth into an empty net, giving him an incredible 50 goals in 39 games.
Northlands or even Edmonton for that matter was never very well known until Wayne Gretzky came to Edmonton in 1978. Although he left in 1988, Northlands is still known as "The House that Wayne Gretzky Built". There's a bronze statue of number 99 hoisting the Stanley Cup outside the stadium; inside, 22 banners hang, including five Stanley Cup victories. During his time there, it was probably the most famous rink in the world based on his and the rest of the early 1980's Oilers teams performances. One could make a case in saying that the Coliseum was like the early New York Yankee teams with all of their great stars who became Hall of Famers. Just think of these names, Glen Anderson, Paul Coffey (Future HOF), Grant Fuhr (2005 HOF), Wayne Gretzky (1999 HOF), Jari Kurri (2001 HOF), Kevin Lowe (Future HOF), Mark Messier (Future HOF), Glen Sather (1997 HOF), all could be in the Hall of Fame one day. We all watched them grow up in our city before the players moved on due to MONEY. (Note: Kevin Lowe came back in 1996 to finish up his playing career and retired after the 1998 season to become assistant coach with the team. He then became the Head coach in 1999 and General Manager in 2000.)
People always mention that it IS the quietest building in the NHL during the regular season. It is - because every person in that rink grew up with hockey and understands every nuiance of the game. When the fans see something that is really above and beyond, the players hear it. Otherwise, they pay good money to watch the game, not to yell and be stupid as some alcohol filled fans in other arenas do. When it comes to playoff hockey, it becomes one of the loudest in the league. During the 2006 San Jose Sharks/Edmonton Oilers contest, the decibal reading was 114 db! One point higher than the Sharks had that same week. One game in particular in which they were awfully loud was an exhibition game against the Soviet Red Army Team. I sat in the first row of the second level and witnessed one of the most intense games I have ever seen. I'm guessing now (if you know the score email me) but I
think the score was 4-3 Edmonton where Dave Semenko scored and almost destroyed the net when he ran into it. Vladimir Myshkin was in goal because Vladislav Tretiak had the flu. One of the Greatest "pure" hockey games I've ever seen.
It does have, what many people consider, the fastest ice in the NHL year in and year out. Skating teams thrive on this surface. The Edmonton team is usually built around that fact and this was the philosophy of Glen Sather, the former President, General Manager and Hall of Fame coach of the team.
I grew up looking at the building and dreaming of one day owning the team rather than playing for them. I have met the former owner Peter Pocklington and joked with him about holding on to the team until I make my fortune. The team was sold to a consortium of local business owners in 1998 and it appears that the Edmonton Oilers will now become the Green Bay Packers of the NHL. Hopefully one day I will be able to join the ranks of that consortium and give you a first hand report of the state of the team and facility :)
All children who have not celebrated 2nd birthday will be free (if they sit on someone's lap). Children ages 2 and above will require a ticket to enter the building. This policy is enforced unless otherwise specified by the show.
BOX OFFICE HOURS:
Monday - Friday 9:30am - 5:00pm,
Saturday 9:30am - 1:30pm
Sundays, Major Holidays CLOSED
If a concert is in the evening (Mon-Fri) the Box Office will remain open
until 1/2 hour past the start of the event. Saturdays major concert sales ONLY
9:30am - 1:30pm.
FOR HOCKEY GAMES:
Box Office hours - Saturday night hockey games 9:30am til beginning of third period. Sunday night hockey games Saturday 9:30am-5:00pm & Sunday 10:00am til beginning of third period. Be very careful when selling tickets for rows 1- 3 as the boards are about 3.5 FT high which will obstruct customers view (ie cutting corners). Top of glass approx.equal to: on sides row 6, corners row 10, and end zones row 10. Also for seats located directly behind players 'benches(Section 118-119:Home,Section 119-120:Visitors) & penalty box,customers' view will be obstructed by the players during the course of a game. Standing room tickets will become available when reserved seating has sold out. Locations: End Colonade (Rows 38) sections 125-131 Northside, sections 107-113 Southside. Skybox Rentals call 471-2191-Oilers Office.
LAYOUT OF THE COLISEUM:
* Lower Level: Gold Club, Silver Club, and Executive.
* Mid Level: Executive Terrace, Terrace, Side Colonade, and End Colonade.
* Upper Level: Gallery.
Floor rows vary according to concert set up. Gold and Silver Club rows 1-18, no rail (hockey only), Executive rows 1-11,rail 12-19 (End zone for hockey). Executive Terrace rows 21-24. Terrace rows 25-29, Side Colonade rows 30-41 Northside, 30-39 Southside, End Colonade rows 30-37, Gallery rows 42-53 Southside Only. All seats have backs.
Allstar Suites located level with concourse level. Standing room end blues row 38 sections 125-131, sections 107-113-released only when hockey game is sold out. Seat numbers go right to left facing the ice. Rail in front of rows 21 & 42 could obstruct childs view. There are two escalators located on each side of the building, behind sections 119 and 101 respectively. Concourse level escalator goes up to the Upper Concourse level, (between the Executive Terrace and the Terrace). Elevator on the Northside main floor goes to Oiler office only as well as the Sky Suites.
Ample parking located around the Coliseum. The parking lot immediately next to the coliseum on the north side is restricted to season ticket holders.
48 seats available. LOCATIONS row 19 in sections 108, 112, 126, and 130, row A19 for wheelchair, B19 for attendant, Prices vary according to event. May be purchased through C-B-P and all TicketMaster outlets. Can only buy one attendant seat per wheelchair seat. If attendant is not required purchase only 1 wheelchair seat.
There are no wheelchair seats available to TicketMaster for OILERS hockey games as these tickets are purchased by season ticket holders. Customer must purchase wheelchair tickets in pairs ONLY.
Located North West Side behind Wayne Gretzky statue. When facing Coliseum, it is to the right of the statue.
Facelift for rink
Northlands was giving Skyreach Centre at bit of a facelift in time for the Oilers October 1, 1999 opener in which Wayne Gretzky had hisnumber 99 retired. Workers were painting the hallways and walls, fixing broken seats and repairing or replacing tattered carpet in the rink.
Northlands Coliseum - If You Build It, They Will Come
Most opening nights are grand affairs with pageantry, speeches, music and plenty of ceremony. However, fans coming to the November 10, 1974 opening of Northlands Coliseum were greeted with the sounds and smells of a construction site. Paint was still being applied, seats were being bolted into place and generators were being set up so that some areas of the arena could have power.
Contractors had promised that the new Coliseum would be ready in time for the Oilers 1974-75 WHA season, but they were still working as the doors opened for the game against the Cleveland Crusaders.
The arena, built by a partnership between contractors Pat Bowlenwho now owns the Denver Broncos of the National Football Leagueand Peter Batoni would be a far cry from the old Edmonton Gardens; a 5,200 seat building that dated back to the days when it was simply called the Livestock Pavilion back in 1913.
The Coliseum was located across Northlands Park from the Edmonton Gardens. By opening night, the dressing rooms were still undone in the new Coliseum. Forced to use the old dressing rooms at the Gardens, both teams took yellow school buses that dropped them off at the arena.
"A couple of hours before game time, they were making announcements on the P.A. for the fans to be careful as they sat down, because some of the seats may not be anchored like they should be," recalled Oilers back-up goalie Ken Brown. "There were no dressing rooms yet; all that was there on that opening night where the dressing rooms would be was the frames. There was no power or water there."
In fact, Brown said that building officials had to call in his father, who owned a firm called Dads Construction, to help generate power. A Dads van with a portable generator ran throughout the game to ensure the game would go on.
The fact that the building was not finished did not bother the throng of 15,326 who came to watch the game. Montreal Canadiens legend Jacques Plante started in goal for the Oilers, while the great Gerry Cheevers started in net for the Crusaders. The crowd, at that time, marked the highest game attendance in WHA history.
That night, it would be Plante, despite being well into his 40s, who would out-duel Cheevers and lead the Oilers to a 4-1 win.
The opening would be a bright spot on a dim Oilers season. The Oilers missed the
playoffs that year, finishing with a 36-38-4 record, and on many nights, the new
arena was half-full.
But for some, it would mark the shining moment of their careers.
"I guess one of the great moments was to be there when they first opened the Coliseum and to be there for the first National Hockey League game at the Coliseum," said Al Hamilton, the WHA legend and the first Oiler to have his number retired by the club.
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
March 2, 2001 - The Skyreach Centre is not one of the new, showy arenas that the NHL has to offer, and fits more into the mold of NHL venues such as Reunion Arena in Dallas and Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. This venue is located 3 miles outside of downtown, and is a part of a large complex called Northlands Park which includes a racetrack, gambling casino and agricultural exhibition buildings. Surrounded by highways and parking, there is little neighborhood ambience surrounding the arena. Just outside is a light rail transit station which conveniently drops fans off just steps from the front door.
|Rexall Place Ranking by USRT|
|Fan Support|| 8.5|
|Concourses/Fan Comfort|| 3|
|Bonus: Oil Derrick|| 2|
|Bonus: USRT Red Carpet Treatment|| 4|
|Bonus: Gretzky Statue|| 1|
|Total Score|| 55|
The building is served by a single main concourse which is somewhat narrow and clogs fairly easily. Off the main entrance are two team stores, both offering roughly the same merchandise, and there are additional point of sale kiosks as well as many concession stands throughout the concourses.
At ground level is a concourse called the "Air Canada Club" and is accessible only to ticket holders in the club section, which is designated by the lower level seats from goal line to goal line. The Air Canada Club is carpeted throughout and features concession stands, bars, coat check and lounge areas. The concourse extends about 270 degrees around the perimeter of the building, and ends in an area just adjacent to the Oilers locker room. Fans sitting in that bar area can watch the Oilers players literally walk right past them as they proceed from their dressing area to the playing surface.
The arena bowl is laid out in two levels, and the intimacy of this building is such that no matter where you sit you are right on top of the action. In the center is an eight sided scoreboard, with four panels being video boards which are grainy and much in need of replacement or updating. Apparently the Oilers have this high on their list of priorities. Along the balcony edge are stationary ad panels interspersed with dot matrix message boards showing stats and out of town scores, and in two corners are the new LED digital effects boards, but not 360 degree surround!
We were told by Oilers officials to make sure and be in our seats early, and we found out why. The team does an outstanding opening extravaganza, including an amazing light show, pyrotechnics exploding in mid air, laser lights, all culminating in a 30 foot oil derrick which is dropped from the ceiling to the ice, which spews out sparks and fire as the Oilers players skate out beneath it. The musical selection, video clips from cartoons and TV shows, and scoreboard contests were all excellently done. The team spends considerable time and energy in making a show the fans will enjoy and respond to.
Out of Town Scores
In addition to NHL scores, the Oilers display the AHL score of their affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs. AND, they scroll NBA out of town scores. Let this one sink in ---- NBA scores, ----- in EDMONTON!
We have to mention the pierogies, which we have not seen in any other sports venues. With potato/cheese filling and smothered in fried onions, this was a unique treat. Edmonton boasts the largest population of Ukrainian descent anywhere in Canada, so obviously this food item has many takers! Also in the arena is the All Star Cafe, a premium restaurant located in the sky box level that offers a pregame prime rib buffet. This facility is available to any ticket holders but one must have a reservation.
This great hockey temple was home to the '80s NHL dynasty, and the teams division, conference, and five Stanley Cup banners hang proudly at one end of the rafters. At the other end hangs one retired number, that being the Great One, #99, Wayne Gretzky. There is also a statue of Gretzky outside in the public plaza... and, appropriately, the parkway adjacent to the Skyreach Centre is called "Wayne Gretzky Way".
Our disappointment with the Edmonton Oilers experience is but one thing, but a huge thing at that. This team has such a proud and incredible history - all those Stanley Cups, all those great seasons, those great moments, those great players who are icons of hockey. Yet there is not a single mention - a name, a picture, a plaque, a memento, or anything else in the building that heralds all the fantastic moments that happened there. Where are the names Fuhr, Messier, Coffey, Kurri, Anderson? Where are the murals? Teams with so much less success do so much more to showcase their history and celebrate their moments (even in the Ice Palace, hockey's most laughable franchise and going nowhere fast with Tortorella running the show, one can find a panoramic picture of the Thunderdome with 30,000 fans packed in the place). We road trippers love seeing the exhibits, looking at the portraits in the concourses. We were expecting to see so much on our visit to this hockey palace, and we were BITTERLY disappointed to find none of it. In fact, the coolest mural wasn't even in the building ... it was a full wall ad on a building across the street from the arena. On the mural were the five Stanley Cup rings, and the slogan read "and now for the other hand". Our advice and our plea to Edmonton is --- "Celebrate and showcase your history!!!" You have a proud tradition and that message ought to be oozing from every wall and alcove of your building!
Extra Points - Marketing
The Oilers have somewhat the same problem we have here in Buffalo - every time the Leafs come to town those pesky Toronto fans show up in their blue and white jerseys and permeate the building with their clatter of "Go Leafs Go". The Oilers have a substantial season ticket base, but rely on group sales, mini packs and some promotions to insure sellouts. We talked about the way Buffalo handled the Leafs thing this year - and that is to bundle Leafs single tickets with other games. The Oilers seemed to like that idea and are heading in that direction as well. But as long as those ducats remain scarce at the Air Canada Centre, those Leafs fans will find a way into our buildings. You can pretty much count on that!
We saw the fabulous West Edmonton Mall, toured the city's sports venues, had a great dinner and took in an awesome game at the Skyreach Centre, and enjoyed the warm welcome of these terrific Edmonton folk. Now after a long and full day we head back down highway 2 to Calgary, and for our next leg of the journey we get to see if the Calgary experience can match this one.
OILERS MAXIMIZE DASHER BOARD ADS
April 13, 2006
Copyright 2006 MediaVentures
The Edmonton Oilers have been working to maximize their revenue from dasher board signs
this season by swapping out ads in mid-game while the ice is being resurfaced.
The practice goes beyond rotating signage which changes periodically. At Rexall Place, Oilers
staffers replace entire banners over the dasher boards.
As a small market, Edmond cannot charge the prices that other NHL teams often command for
prime signage. Among league teams, signs that show up on television can often cost up to $300,000 while on the non-broadcast side, signs will sell for $50,000 to $100,000 over a season. Those prices are out of reach for many potential Edmonton buyers.
By switching out the signs, the team can charge less to each individual buyer while maximizing the value of the signage.
Among the rotated brands on the Rexall Place boards are Cold-FX and Cell-FX, products made by local biotech company CV Technologies.
Norm Oliver, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for CV Technologies, says the Oilers' offer to rotate ads for the final 25 home games of the year was a good opportunity for the company. CV Technologies has a long association with the Oilers, having its Cold-FX cold and flu remedy used by the team for several years.
RENOVATION OF REXALL PLACE MAY BE AN OPTION
July 8, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Edmonton, Alberta - New estimates have lowered the cost for renovating Rexall Place arena in
Edmonton to C$190 million from near C$250 million, according to the Edmonton Sun.
"(Northlands) has got new quotes coming in on the building out there," city councilmember Ed
Gibbons told the Sun. "They're going to start meeting with councilors in the next few weeks leading up to July 21 (when the Katz Group is scheduled to bring their downtown arena plans to city council)."
The newspaper says the Northlands is also interested in putting a hotel and park along with a light rail station near the building as part of the project.
Northlands spokesman Brian Leadbetter told the newspaper that coming up with up-to-date renovation costs was a matter of "due diligence."
Bob Black, executive vice president with the Katz Group which owns the Oilers, told the newspaper that the company has been saying for months that lower costs was their main reason for wanting to move ahead with a new arena and entertainment district.
The Katz Group first unveiled its plans for a new C$1.5 billion downtown arena and entertainment district in February, which would include a new arena as well as hotels, restaurants, office space and a winter garden.
KATZ REJECTS REXALL RENOVATION
July 22, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Edmonton, Alberta - Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz has told Edmonton officials that a
renovation of Rexall Place won't meet the team's needs and that a new arena in a downtown entertainment district is what's needed, according to the Edmonton Sun.
Katz vowed to city council members to keep the Oilers in Edmonton through a location agreement and pledged C$100 million towards the developments surrounding the arena - an investment on top of the C$100 million he has already committed towards the arena, the newspaper reported.
However, the Katz Group insisted that an overhaul of Rexall Place was not an option they were willing to entertain, with Katz Group lawyer John Karvellas stressing: "We do not intend for the Oilers to play in a renovated Rexall Place," the newspaper said.
Renovations would mean a severe reduction in seats, according to a recent study conducted by arena architect Populous, and in turn result in a "multimillion-dollar loss" in revenue, said Oilers president Patrick LaForge.
The current business model as it stands is not sustainable for the team, which has only made money in the last 10 years, and requires an annual infusion of several million dollars of Katz's own money to break even, the group said.
The Oilers are also at a disadvantage because they currently play in one of the smallest and oldest arenas in the National Hockey League, and do not get any revenues from non-hockey events held at Rexall Place, according to the Sun.
The newspaper said city administrators indicated that on top of Katz's personal investments, other funding options for the arena - priced between C$400 million and C$450 million - included implementing a C$5 ticket surcharge that could fund up to C$135 million in capital costs, and a community revitalization levy or tax levy on surrounding developments, which could fund up to C$140 million in capital costs.
Katz said the city would also own the arena, adding: "If that's what it takes to move this project forward, then I'm prepared to do that."
City administrators indicated that about C$500 million to C$600 million in development would be needed to fund the $140 million in capital costs they are projecting, the newspaper reported.
Several raised questions about how Northlands would fit into the new arena project, the newspaper said.
Karvellas indicated that the Katz Group had discussions with Northlands, but moved on after both groups failed to come to an understanding.
The council has directed administration to negotiate with the Katz Group and Northlands to come up with a framework on financing - without considering the option of raising current property taxes - and the operations of a downtown arena and entertainment district.
Northlands spokesman Brian Leadbetter did not comment to the Sun on the Katz Group's refusal to have the Oilers play in a renovated Rexall Place, adding: "That's their perspective and we respect their position."
NORTHLANDS EXPECTS TO COMPETE WITH NEW OILERS ARENA
July 21, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Edmonton, Alberta - Northlands says it intends to keep hosting concerts at the venue it
oversees, Rexall Place, even if that means competing with a new downtown arena, according to a new report to city council reviewed by the Edmonton Journal.
Several consultants' reports in the past have said Edmonton is too small to support two large entertainment venues. Northlands has also told council it doesn't believe the city can support two large concert venues, but insists it's not the organization's job to stop operating, even if that puts the viability of a new downtown arena and entertainment complex at risk.
"We have a contract that goes to 2034," Northlands president Richard Andersen told the Journal.
"In fairness, we're not doing anything at all. We're caught in the middle on this. We've created a business and we're running it very well."
Negotiations between the Katz Group, which wants a new arena for the Edmonton Oilers by 2014, and city administration are ongoing. The Katz Group has said Northlands would not be involved in a new arena project. The group has also said it will need a non-compete clause in the contract to ensure a new arena is financially viable.
A non-compete clause would have to be worked out between the City of Edmonton and Northlands.
The new report, which is scheduled for debate at city council, comes in response to a series of questions from councilman Ed Gibbons, who represents the city on the Northlands' board.
"Who is the city, or who is Katz Group that they think they can just take away (Northlands) business," Gibbons told the Journal in response to the report.
Northlands gets up to C$5 million from the City of Edmonton annually in grant money, but the organization can continue to operate without that money and the city has no way to stop it, said Gibbons.
The only way to solve the problem is to bring in a third-party negotiator and get all three parties - the city, Northlands and Katz Group - to the table together, he said.
Lorna Rosen, chief financial officer for the city, said administrators are in talks with Northlands to see how the organization could continue to function well if a downtown arena went ahead.
"We're not very far along that path," she told the newspaper.
On another front, the Journal says the governing board of the Northlands wants to spend C$770,000 on new seats for Rexall Place where the Oilers now play.
The plan to replace the lower arena seating is one of four "alterations" to Northlands facilities that council members will review shortly.
"If council objects to any one of those projects, then those projects won't go forward," Rosen said at a news conference in City Hall.
Under the city's master agreement with Northlands, upgrades to Northlands facilities that cost more than C$750,000 must first be vetted by city council, the Journal said.
Such capital budget items from Northlands routinely come before the council,Rosen said.