Northlands Coliseum

Northlands Coliseum
Image of Northlands Coliseum courtesy the Edmonton Journal

Address 7424 118th Avenue
Edmonton, Ab T5B-4M9
Phone (780) 471-7210
Official Website
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  Venue Particulars  
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Seating Location
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Team Page Newsgroup
Local Airport  
  The Facility  
Date Built 1974
City of Edmonton
(Edmonton Northlands)
Cost of Construction C$14 million renovation completed in 1994
Naming Rights Skyreach Equipment Ltd. bought the rights to the building's name for a reported minimum $1 million a year in 1998. The company also has the option on five more years.
  Other Facts  
Tenants Edmonton Oilers
(NHL) 1979-Present
Edmonton Drillers
Former Tenants Edmonton Oilers
(WHA) 1974-1979
Edmonton Drillers
Population Base 720,000
On Site Parking 1,100
Nearest Airport 30 Miles
Retired Numbers #3 Al Hamilton
#99 Wayne Gretzky
Championships 1st





Hockey 17,099
Ticket Price Range
(Mean Range)
C$60, C$55, C$44, C$38, C$32, C$26, C$22, C$15
(C$42.08) (US$25.50)
Luxury Suites 39 Suites
16 skyboxes
Club Seats 3,323
  Attendance History  
Season  Total  Capacity Change
1998-99 666,281 95% 0.04%
1997-98 666,033 95% 1.2%
1996-97 658,146 94% 30.1%
1995-96 505,735 72% 60.6%
1994-95 314,972 77% -43%
1993-94 552,569 79% -8.9%
1992-93 606,685 87% -6.3%
1994-95 - Attendance for 24 games due to NHL lockout

Sources:Team Marketing Report and Mediaventures

The history of the Oilers can be traced back to the early 1970's. In 1971 two california business men, both of whom had been involved in the American Basketball Association, incorporated the World Hockey Association. The WHA would become a second major hockey league which would rival the National Hockey League.

The WHA opened for business during the 1972-73 season as a twelve team league divided into an Eastern and Western Division. The charter members of the league were the Los Angeles Sharks, Quebec Nordiques, Houston Aeros, Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Cougers, New York Raiders, New England Whalers (who played in Boston), Philadelphia Blazers, Ottawa Nationals, Cleveland Crusaders and Alberta Oilers.

The Association, wanting a strong Canadian presence and wanted a team in Calgary, but the franchise, along with a proposed one in Miami, couldn't come up with the needed funds before the season began.

The Oilers were called Alberta because the team had intended to split its games between Edmonton and Calgary, but the idea fell through and the Oilers made Edmonton their full-time home.

The Alberta Oilers finished fourth in the Western Division with a record of 38-37-3/79pts.

The team changes from the Alberta to Edmonton Oilers. They finish third in the Western Division with the same record as the year before, 38-37-3/79pts.

The WHA is divided up into three divisions. The Oilers are placed in the newly formed Canadian Division. The team finishes fifth (last) in the division with a record of 36-38-4/76pts. By this time there are 38 major league pro teams between the NHL and WHA and owners are losing vast amounts of money as the war for top quality player heats up.

The Oilers finish fourth in the Canadian Division with a record of 27-49-5/59pts.

The WHA goes back to the two division concept and the Oilers are back in the Western Division where they finish with a record of 34-43-4/72pts.

The NHL and WHA were both in big trouble finacially, but the WHA was worse off. Because of lost teams, the association had to drop the divisions and go to an overall standing. A touring Czechoslovakia National Team and a team of Soviet All-Stars played against WHA teams that season and the results counted in the standings. During this the Oilers finished fifth overall with a record of 38-39-3/79pts. During this time, talks were starting to heat up between the WHA and the NHL.

The WHA's last season. By the end of the season the team was down to only six teams. This season an important one for more than one reason. A Vancouver businessman, working on behalf of the trouble Indianapolis Racers, signed a skinny 17-year old hockey player from Ontario to a personal service contract to play for the Racers. Wayne Gretzky became a member of the Indianapolis Racers (I'm not sure how many games he played for them). The team was in trouble, however, and they wanted to sell Gretzky's contract in order to get some cash relief. Two teams were interested, the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.

Gretzky boarded a plane in Indianapolis, and didn't know where he was going. A deal was reached while the plane was in the air and Gretzky went to Edmonton.

With Gretzky's help, the Oilers, never a powerhouse in the WHA, had their best season ever. Gretzky was third in league scoring and was the first Oiler to ever place among the top ten scorers in the association. The Oilers themselves finished first overall with a record of 48-30-2/98pts.

The Oilers made it to their first Avco Cup final, but were beaten by the most dominant team in WHA history, the Winnipeg Jets who captured their third Avco Cup, and the last one in WHA history.

In the off season a deal was struck between the WHA and the NHL. A merger, of sorts, would take place. The WHA would and all of its teams would fold. The NHL would award expansion franchises to four WHA cities. Expansion teams with the same names, uniforms, front office staff, and some players. The league accepted for play during the 1979-80 season the Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford (formerly New England) Whalers and the Edmonton Oilers.

Under terms of the agreement, the four teams were allowed to keep one goalie and two skaters from their WHA line-ups, the rest of the players would be sent to the NHL teams which drafted them. Players not drafted would go back into the entry draft.

The Oilers made special arrangments to allow them to keep Gretzky, as well as the three players they were allowed to keep.

The four WHA teams then took place in an expansion draft in which each of the other NHL teams gave up four players and the teams also took part in the entry draft. The Oilers first every NHL draft pick was Kevin Lowe (21st overall) from the Quebec Remparts.

Besides Gretzky, the Oilers protected Bengt Gustafsson, Ed Mio and Dave Dryden. The teams expansion draft picks were: Pete LoPresti (Minnesota), Doug Favell (Colorado), Cam Connor (Montreal), Lee Fogolin (Buffalo), Pat Price (NY Islanders), Colin Campbell (Pittsburgh), Larry Brown (Los Angeles), Ron Areshenkoff (Buffalo), Inge Hammarstrom (St. Louis), John Gould (Atlanta), Doug Hicks (Chicago), Tom Edur (Pittsburgh), Wayne Bianchin (Pittsburgh), Mike Forbes (Boston), Doug Patey (Washington), Bob Kelly (Chicago)

Special thanks to Darcey McLaughlin for compiling this Oilers WHA History.

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