Tuesday, April 24, 2007


We Built This City

Following up on another post I wrote today on the plans to force the issue on a new NHL arena in Edmonton, here is an editorial by Gary Lamphier in today's Edmonton Journal. It's a doozy. According to Lamphier, there is no street life in Edmonton. Activity on Whyte Avenue, the UofA Campus, and near 109 street and Jasper apparently does not exist. So we need a new arena downtown. A new arena will draw in "suburbanites to the city centre on a regular basis for hockey games, concerts and other events," where they will "patronize nearby restaurants and bars." Yes, just like they've visited all those restaurants and bars surrounding Rexall and Commonwealth Stadium over the years. Those areas are hopping.

According to Lamphier, a new arena will also get rid of the "small army of panhandlers or even crack dealers" in the downtown area. He's totally right, of course. They won't stay because of the increase in traffic and public transportation, like on Whyte Avenue. No, no. They'll flee to West Edmonton Mall and St. Albert, and bug those people. Plus, why do something crazy like invest money in solutions to poverty or drug addiction when you can spend over $400 million throwing up a hockey rink for millionaires, and then just chase those disgusting poor people away? That's a much more ethical solution, if you ask me.

Lamphier is confident that if Edmonton had an arena in the downtown area, all would be well. He lists Bloor Street in Toronto, Robson Street in Vancouver, and 17th Avenue SW in Calgary as examples of the kind of street life Edmontonians should aspire to. Reading this, I became interested in knowing the exact locations of the NHL arenas in all six Canadian markets. So I checked them all out on Google Maps, which I now provide to you.

Google Maps for all six NHL arenas in Canada

GM Place in Vancouver, built in 1995.

Rexall Place in Edmonton, built in 1974.

Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, built in 1983.

Air Canada Centre in Toronto, built in 1999.

Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, built in 1996.

Bell Centre in Montreal, built in 1996.

The cool thing about the Google maps is that you can move them around, zoom in and out, and work back and forth between maps, satellite images, and a hybrid. All the maps I've linked to are hybrids. I've also created a map showing Rexall, as well as the proposed new site for an arena. It is here.

Looking at these maps, and using my own knowledge and experience of these cities and arenas, some things stand out for me:

• Bloor Street in Toronto is a good distance away from both the ACC Centre and the Skydome. As it is near the University of Toronto, I'm also quite certain the street was doing fairly well prior to either stadium being built.

• I haven't been to Vancouver in a while, but if my memory serves me correctly both GM Place and BC Place are in rather remote locations, at the end of Robson. Furthermore, I'm also pretty sure any vitality on Robson pre-dates the arrival of the arenas.

• Montreal and Toronto have relatively new hockey arenas, but the Montreal Forum opened in 1924, and Maple Leaf Gardens opened in 1931. That's a much longer existence than Rexall, which has only been up for 30 years.

• My memory of the Bell Centre is that it is on the outskirts of downtown, not in the actual core.

• There were additional reasons to build new stadiums in Toronto and Vancouver, other than hockey. Both cities had to make arrangements for their NBA franchises.

• There is diddly squat going on around Pengrowth, except when the Stampede is on. The action on 17th is further west.

• Scotiabank Place might as well be in Winnipeg, its location is so remote.

These are all just random thoughts and recollections. Others will have way more insight on these arenas and these cities, and I'm actually looking for advice and feedback on it all. But if I can, I'd like to make three broad statements here:

1) Many of the social and economic centres that Lamphier and others will list existed long before the arenas were put there. In fact, I'd suggest some of those arenas were in fact put in those areas because of what already existed, rather than the other way around.

2) Rexall is not in a terribly remote location. Sure it won't be as close to the downtown core as in some other cities, but it's not as far away as some would like us to think. Furthermore, it has other benefits, such as two large freeways and an already existing LRT station on site. I am sceptical that a location downtown will ease the travel time significantly enough for anyone other than those who already live or work downtown (admitted as such, and rightly so, here). In fact, if I lived in Mill Woods, Riverbend, St. Albert or say, Lloydminster, it would likely be faster and less of a hassle for me to drive into the current site than it would be for me to drive into the already congested city core.

3) Edmonton doesn't have to be exactly the same as other Canadian cities to be vibrant, or a great place to live. The fact is, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal will always be large, world-class cities. They have history, location, and population on their side. They are what Dr. Richard Florida calls "global talent magnets." Edmonton is never going to be one of those cities. It's a new, landlocked city of the north. It's more similar to what Florida calls a "global Austin," a second group of major world cities. It has an excellent public school system, an excellent health-care system, a world-class research University, a vibrant arts and culture scene, a large urban forest full of parks and pathways, and a tolerant and (mostly) civil population. But it's freezing here in winter, a reality Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary don't have to face, or at least not as much. The city has been built, and has naturally developed, according to that reality. It also has a large river valley that runs through it, creating planning nightmares and a false sense of distance. I can walk from my house near the UofA to Whyte Avenue in ten minutes, and to Jasper Avenue in tweny-five. Someone living downtown could walk to Jasper in ten, and to Whyte Avenue in twenty-five. Lamphier could too, if he actually bothered to try. Saying there is no streetlife in this city is bogus. Saying that you need to build a stadium to get rid of troublesome poor people and drug dealers is even worse. This city doesn't suck because it's not exactly the same as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Nor does it suck because Gary Lamphier can't walk to an Oilers game from his downtown condo. This city is great for a lot of reasons, and it will continue to be great regardless of whether or not a stadium is built downtown.



What I really want to see is Ralph Klein brought out of retirement to head an Anti-Poverty Commission. No one has hands on solutions to homelessness like Ralph.

These two posts are some beautiful work, Andy, some of your best. It's simply amazing how absurdly, convolutedly, terrible most of the arguments in favour are (to date).

What's next in this series? One good one might be success stories of privately financed & owned pro sports facilities.

I haven't been to Vancouver in a while, but if my memory serves me correctly both GM Place and BC Place are in rather remote locations, at the end of Robson. Furthermore, I'm also pretty sure any vitality on Robson pre-dates the arrival of the arenas.

Hardly "remote locations": there's plenty of stuff down there and just because they're not right in the heart of downtown doesn't mean they're not solidly downtown.

Montreal and Toronto have relatively new hockey arenas, but the Montreal Forum opened in 1924, and Maple Leaf Gardens opened in 1931.

Interestingly, the new arena in Montreal is no more (and possibly even less) central than the Old Forum, and the ACC is much farther away from the core (and the aforementioned Bloor Street) than the old Maple Leaf Gardens was.

For once, instead of platitudes and assumptions, I would like to see a columnist give hard numbers - or at the very least anecdotes, supporting the supposed economic benefits a downtown arena will bring.

As for Lamphier's other comments, I've worked downtown for the past 7 months and have yet to be accosted by a panhandler or offered drugs. Dusty parking lots and litter are problems, but those won't be solved by a new arena.

If a hockey arena is really a panacea for economic woe (which I'm not convinced it is), wouldn't it make sense to invest in rebuilding Rexall on its current site, and rehabilitating the Alberta Avenue-Fort Road area? I think downtown's doing fine on its own. Office vacancy is way down, new restaurants (successful ones no less) and pubs are popping up, and more and more people are moving into the area every year and choosing to spend their leisure time there as well. Give it five more years, once the Icon and Aurora developments among others are complete, and downtown will be at a whole other level. Sure it's not all the way there yet, but it's on the right track.

Downtown will be fine without an arena. With the right plans for rebuilding Rexall on the Northlands site, that are could be a revitalization success story as well. I wish people would be talking about that possibility, not just copying what we think other cities have done successfully.

Hardly "remote locations": there's plenty of stuff down there and just because they're not right in the heart of downtown doesn't mean they're not solidly downtown.

There's a hopping scene right next to GM Place? A bunch of bars and restaurants that popped up after it was built? The action isn't further northwest, or even southwest, near Granville Island? All I remember being around there is the skytrain and roads that racecar drivers ride on.

I know what you are saying, LB, but comparing these larger downtowns with ours is part of the problem. It's like apples and oranges. If someone said to you, the area directly around GM Place is a cultural hotspot with a thriving streetlife, and it's all because of GM place, would you agree with that? Or would you say that location was chosen because it was empty after Expo 86, the skytrain goes by it, there are feeder roads for vehicle traffic, and it's relatively close to what was already a pretty vibrant downtown core in a beautiful climate?

There's a hopping scene right next to GM Place? A bunch of bars and restaurants that popped up after it was built? The action isn't further northwest, or even southwest, near Granville Island? All I remember being around there is the skytrain and roads that racecar drivers ride on.

Well, I wouldn't say "hopping scene right next to". But the hopping scene is a couple blocks walk away, and even the scene in the immediate proximity is better than what you'll find around Rexall (for what that's worth). As I said, you're not in the Middle of Everything, but not a lot is; that's why it's the middle.

Also, I in no mean meant that statement to be an argument about anything: I was merely trying to clear up something. Arenas don't magically sprout out nightlife and I really hope everybody knows that (though I do like the idea of a downtown arena just because dealing with downtown arenas in Victoria and Vancouver over the last few years has utterly converted me that it's just handy).

How come whenever I see the words "Lyle Best - Chairman" I hear Rod Serling's voice?

Heard recently outside ScotiaBank Place, "Martha, ol' Bessie's stopped givin' milk!"

It's interesting that you mentioned Richard Florida. I saw him speak about 4-5 yrs ago down here and he was quite good. Very interesting stuff.

As for the Oilers and a new building... I think it would be a ridiculous waste of public funds. However, I think everyone can agree that if the city/province ends up allocating funds to such a project that would benefit the Oilers again, then they need something in return this time.

At the very least they should get an ironclad 30-yr lease/non-relocation agreement.

This Lamphier guy is on the editorial board of the Journal? There has to be a more articulate way of stating that downtown Edmonton "sucks".

In any event, it sounds like a very familiar tune of specious civic boosterism and infrastructure envy, doesn't seem to change whether it's referring to art galleries, arenas or monorails.

One thing to watch for when the usual suspects in the business community line up to support the project is exactly how they'll stand to benefit from it. I don't know the context of the site in question, but if there are significant infrastructure upgrades required to service the arena (roads, sewer, transit) or remediation of things like contaminated soil, developers will be salivating at the prospect of piggybacking on the added capacity made available. Particularly if it's at someone else's (taxpayers) expense.

Best to ignore the "economic impact statements" that are sure to follow and remember Freddy Bastiat's tale of "what is seen and what is not seen".

I will say this: it seems absolutely bonkers to me to be talking about replacing a perfectly acceptable arena at the same time that the Province ishas putting on hold the expansion of the RAM -- a project that has been in the works since 2003 and was scheduled to break ground this year.

I can't think of a single new bar that's been built near the ACC- only parking lots. It was built in a dead zone, and it remains in a dead zone.
And yeah, Bloor and the ACC are at completely opposite ends of downtown. I wouldn't want to try and walk between them.

I lived in the Baltimore, Maryland area for eight years, and while they don't have hockey there, the comment about sports facilities going up where there is already some activity is dead on.

When Baltimore was looking to revitalize their Inner Harbor area, they didn't look to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to do it. They cleaned up the area around the Baltimore Aquarium (absolutely gorgeous, by the way) and put in a lovely complex with small trendy shops. They put an enormous Barnes and Noble bookstore in the old power plant building, built footbridges between piers so it was easier to walk the area, and made the walk to the Science Center more inviting. As the area improved for tourists the surrounding neighborhoods improved as younger couples started buying and rehabbing some of the historic old rowhouses because they wanted to live closer to the city core and without children didn't worry about school systems. It was a logical place to put a baseball park since so many things were already going on in the area, and when they built Ravens Stadium for football right next to it, it was because the old Memorial Stadium really was decrepit and falling apart, as well as being marooned in the suburbs.

Another thing about Camden Yards was that it was one of the first of the retro ballparks, with a lot of brick and ironwork, and integrated into the landscape of the city. Regardless of the baseball team, the park got a lot of attention for not being a cookie-cutter generic facility. The problem is that when architects try to be innovative, sometimes the results are just bad. (Has anyone else seen the monstrosity that was once Soldier Field in Chicago? Good lord, one of the most...unusual...structures I've ever seen.)

And if this is how you retire, you are the Roger Clemens of hockey bloggers. :)

I feel as I can only assume the rest of you do, like I took crazy pills.

Andy, you're right in saying that the ACC was built into an already developed area. The bars nearby on Front and the transportation hub of Union already existed in the area. The only new developments are condos.

As for Ottawa, anyone that's been to a game can tell you that there is NOTHING anywhere near it other than the bars in the building. It is a freaking white elephant.

Following this story is like watching a trainwreck in slow motion. It feels almost criminal.

I haven't been to Vancouver in a while, but if my memory serves me correctly both GM Place and BC Place are in rather remote locations, at the end of Robson.

When I used to go to games in Vancouver, we typically walked down to Granville and Helmcken (which if a fair distance) to hit up the bar scene after the game. So I don't think you need to be kitty corner to the arena in order to benefit from the spill over crowd from a hockey game.

The most important thing was that GM Place was downtown, which meant I could walk there from work, and that it was within walking distance to the downtown bar district.

When I used to go to games in Vancouver, we typically walked down to Granville and Helmcken (which if a fair distance) to hit up the bar scene after the game.

Vancouver has a big advantage over Edmonton in that it's possible to walk several blocks in winter without freezing to death.

So I don't think you need to be kitty corner to the arena in order to benefit from the spill over crowd from a hockey game.

I don't know how it shakes down in Vancouver, but Edmonton fans are commuters: either they'll be parking nearby or they'll be using transit, which limits their range. A figure I've heard is that the spill over affects from arenas is limite dto the area 1.5 blocks around it.

While someone else could probably speak to the historical aspect of it more -- I've only lived here seven years -- I'm reasonably certain that the 17th Ave nightlife already existed well before the Saddledome was built about 25 years ago. Again, it was built in an area already served by the fledgling C-Train and used to handling a high amount of traffic anyway, and near both downtown and 17th Ave. Good complement to the area, but not exactly a force of change: those bars, I'm fairly certain, were already there.

Oh, and the Saddledome is effectively across the street from the previous arena, the Corral. That also made things easier, no doubt.

Further to Calgary's predicament, the Stampede Committee has just started up an ambitious expansion of the exhibition grounds. It will include, among other things, a hotel, some restaurants and a park, and will make more use out of an area that is otherwise half a huge parking lot.

In this , they take advantage of the existing infrastructure and arena, which should also last another decade-and-a-half.

As this conversation has been leading, it takes more than building an arena to make an area wonderful. If Edmonton wanted to revitalize around their rink, they'd be better off taking the cash for a new one and, instead, invest some money to develop Northlands and the surrounding area.

to all the commenters -- the "Arena does nothing for the local revitalization" versus "Arena does wonders for local revitalization" is a red herring and I think is the less important of the issues. I think this is what the committee and its newspaper want people to focus on.

To Lamphier's credit, the tail end of the article goes to the more important area of conversation:
Indeed, the Oilers might even be in a position to fund the project alone, Pollock adds, although he stresses that he's not familiar with the team's finances.

According to Forbes magazine's annual survey of pro sports franchises, published last November, the Oilers generated operating earnings of $10.7 million US on revenues of $75 million for fiscal 2006.

The club's balance sheet was among the cleanest in the NHL, and its franchise value had jumped 40 per cent over the previous two years, to $146 million, good for 19th spot among 30 NHL clubs.

"So maybe you combine a $400 million arena and a $150 million team so you do a $550 million deal in which you tie the team to the building as its major tenant. And then you do some kind of community ownership deal," suggests Pollock.

"You could put a bond and a common share issue together, combine them as a unit, or even issue them as installment receipts where people pay for them over time as the building is built. There's all kinds of ideas, it all boils down to cash flow," he adds.

"Would I personally invest? Sure, because I believe in the community, it's my home town and I'm investing in improving the city."

This last line, I think is pretty important, and brings the whole "revitalization" issue into perspective. If I (not as a taxpayer, but as an investor) put up $50M for this thing, how would this revitalization effect help my investment?

the existing downtown revitalization relied on:
- residential density near the core
- relative cost/benefit of living downtown versus suburbia being roughly equal
- an influx of non-Albertans who don't have the bias for -- their own yard, 2 vehicles + RV (boat, quad, motorcycle)

- all that would drive commercial (services, stores, restaraunts, attractions) development

Those conditions have been met for the past 3 years and look to be continuing.

The only civic decisions which concretely drove this were the late 90's incentives to developers for every downtown residential unit created.

A downtown arena would be a nice addition to the existing development and potentially increase the pace (but the net effect might have been the same).

I like that Watt and Pollack see that there are non-governmental ways and reasons to drive this forward. Private investors would look at the individual economics of the deal, and the "market dynamics - such as increasing downtown vitality" would be a influencer in the confidence in the deal, but would not be the reason for the deal. i.e. if I was providing my own dolllars to the deal, I would want to know that I make money based on the most conservative of lease/operating revenue ALONE. If added downtown vitality helps increase the lease/operating revenue (i.e. hotel, restaraunt, parking space) then that helps push my decision over the top.

I however, wouldn't buy an arena in order to "stimulate" more growth for downtown. My investment gets no benefit from that.

If Edmonton wanted to revitalize around their rink, they'd be better off taking the cash for a new one and, instead, invest some money to develop Northlands and the surrounding area.

Bingo. There's a ton of potential for that area, especially with the revitalization efforts already underway in the neighbouring Alberta Avenue and Fort Road districts. With the right moves, a hockey arena could be a compliment to revitalization efforts there. I don't think that what downtown needs is a building that's going to sit empty for anywhere from 200-250 nights a year.

More importantly, when there is most likely to be a spillover crowd (the spring/summer/early fall months when the days are longer and it's nicer outside), there won't be much activity. To put it in perspective, from April to September inclusive, Rexall has 14 events scheduled this year. I don't know about you, but to me a vibrant downtown involves bringing a crowd to that area more than twice a month.

For some variety, please read other discussions on this subject.

I'm baffled that he uses the Bloor St. example in Toronto. It makes no sense. As you've pointed out, Bloor street is miles from any large athletic stadium (save perhaps Varsity stadium on the UofT grounds) and furthermore, it isn't even the greatest pedestrian stretch in the city.

If he wanted to, he could have said Queen street, but even that's a stretch. Anyone who uses a car on Queen between Bay street and Bathurst is an idiot, as the area is choked with pedestrians and streetcars 24/7. Now that's a "revitalized" downtown area. You can't swing a dead cat at Queen and Spadina without hitting some emo hipster upside the head, but that's neither here nor there.

And while it was just as vibrant before the ACC opened up 10 minutes south of there, at least it's quasi-geographically close to the damn thing. I was there when the ACC was built and the only tangible result it had on the surrounding area was a sudden lack of parking. That whole stretch used to be derelict factories and railroad yards. MLSE moved in, ate up parking spaces to build their building, and caused the prices of teh remaining spots to be jacked up due to increased demand. I promise you, that's it. The area around the Gardiner Expressway at Bay is as soulless now as it ever was or will be.

Maple Leaf Gardens is at College st just East of Yonge in Toronto. I recall everyone was saying the area was doomed when the Gardens closed in 1999, but again, I've watched what's transpired and the predictions have been all false. It was sketchy before, and it's sketchy now. As far as I can tell, the only discernible change is that the large bar across the street from MLG morphed from "sports bar that's packed three nights a week, 8 months a year" into "student hangout that's moderately packed year-round"

If Cal Nicholls thinks he can find a better place to make money running a hockey team in a city that doesn't already have a franchise then good luck to him. But just once I'd love to see a civic politician call a sports owner on his "we're outta here unless..." bullshit.

Keep on this, Andy. But I suspect you're fighting a battle you're destined to lose.

Is it safe to dub this "The Season of Spin" for Edmonton?

The three best things about Lamphier's article, as I see it:

1) He passes off opposition to the arena as people being upset that the Oilers were bad this year. You're right, Gary: Oilers management can rotisserie me like Hawaiian pork so long as they make the playoffs every year. It has nothing at all to do with viable and important arguments about the economics of throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at millionaires.

2) He offers the line "But economically, a new downtown arena makes tons of sense," then proceeds to not mention ONE SINGLE BACKED-UP ECONOMIC ARGUMENT ABOUT WHY IT WOULD MAKE SENSE. He claims it would revitalize downtown without providing anything in the way of studies and figures, and mentions something about how much it would cost. That's it. Gee, Gary, right now it seems like it only makes sense to glory-eyed fanboys and people with a vested economic interest in getting their new arena paid for including your employers.

3) Has a single one of these articles in the Journal ever, ever mentioned that the Journal, as part owner of the Oilers, has a vested interest in seeing a new arean built? I'm not saying they can't report on it, but even one sentence that says, "Full disclosure: we are rightly considered Oilers owners" would be nice.

If this arena goes through with taxpayer money, without an equal share of profits for the city, I am done with hockey.

In terms of the advantages of building an arena downtown - since the building of the ACC here in Toronto, we have seen a total eradication of poverty, homelessness, unemployment, gang violence, graffiti, litter, pollution, depression, repression, oppression, bad pizza, bad sex, bad skin and bad skin magazines.

The streets of the city are now paved with gold, the taps have cold and colder running beer and everyone has a beautiful man or woman or sheep, according to taste, to service their needs on demand.

Its always 70 degrees and sunny. Nobody has to work because we all have millions of dollars lying around. There is no crime because we all have millions of dollars lying around.


Come on Edmonton - get on board!

It will never happen. Here's why.

The cities that build giant stadium projects come in two categories. First is the failing. They are swinging for the fences in the hopes that something will work. These are cities such as St. Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans (before Katrina, of course), Montreal. Many of these are on the verge of bankruptcy (and Pittsburgh has been in bankrutpcy for years now). Montreal isn't that bad, but it's the Candian Baltimore for sure. The stadiums didn't help.

The second class is the big city that can easily afford it with truly awful infrastructure. Toronto, Chicago come to mind. These stadiums at successful cities are treated by taxpayers as discretionary projects and (I suspect) self-financed. New York failed in getting a publicly financed stadium built. And it's no accident that Los Angeles doesn't have an NFL team.

On another note, the very idea of spending 500 bucks on a cathedral when inflation is through the roof and working people are homeless is appalling. Spend the money on public housing right now. Build the stadium when the boom busts and Edmonton has surplus labour with nothing to do.

This plan directly makes oil sands projects more expensive by increasing the price of labour at the margin. It's insane.

Andy, just want to tell you thank you on another great post. Glad I am not the only one who finds it very disturbing that no one in the media is questioning the construction of the arena. At least they could do is a basic cost/benefit analysis of the situation. Actually scrap that idea, because the journal would have about 50 benefits listed to why it would be a good idea, and one point under cost being "it will cost some money". Talk about objective journalism!!! Although I really do not care for Brian Mason, I really wish he would be causing a stink like no other on this issue.

Am I the only one who thought the comment about panhandlers was in extremely bad taste, by the way? I still can't get over the fact that his solution to getting rid of poor peope was to build a hockey stadium.

If anything, the downtown arena in Winnipeg brought more panhandlers to the area because it meant that there would be a few more people downtown in the evenings and weekends than before.

As someone who lived walking distance from the MTS Centre for two years I can say this: Yes, the new arena was nicer than the old Wpg Arena, and made the hockey watching experience more pleasant. No, the new arena did not provide a measurable boost to businesses in the area. Although the arena housed two bar/restaurants that were open daily, business there was VERY light on non game days. Further, the empty buildings that surround the arena are still empty. And, there's actually more panhandlers and drug dealers in the area than before.

Even if downtown arenas scared away panhandlers (which they don't) and breathed life back into depressed areas (which they might, in some circumstances) this is still a bad idea, from a tax funded, social engineering point of view. No arena (no matter how nice) will ever make walking in downtown Edmonton on a cold winter evening a pleasant experience. Sorry civic boosters, but that's the way that it is.

Black Dog, don't give away the secret!

And seriously, anyone that's been to the ACC can tell you about the insane amount of panhandlers on every path towards the arena. Unless the plan is to round them up Atlanta 1996-style and drive them to the suburbs a new rink will just bring more of them to the area.

to all the commenters -- the "Arena does nothing for the local revitalization" versus "Arena does wonders for local revitalization" is a red herring and I think is the less important of the issues.

I wouldn't say so given that if taxpayers will be asked to pony up for either or both of the arena proper and an upgrade of surrounding infrastructure, it will almost certainly be under the guise of "revitalizing" an area of the city.


Which is why the conversation should BEGIN with:

- if a private investment of $400M can (on a 30 year timeframe) make the returns necessary to be attractive to the investor, then downtown revitalization is irrelevant ( or not the central question)
- then, if -- based on the location request and zoning/land use adjustments required by the City there are infrastructure investments that need to be made by the City, then we can evaluate whether or not the net effects of the arena provide for that investment.

Lamphier's article does go on to talk about how to pay, and quotes options that have been presented which are privately funded.

I am saying we need to help that discussion along, not the question of revitalization or not.

Nam, it all comes down to the net economic (and if you want to consider them, social) benefits of building and locating a new arena. If it's all private investment, then it becomes more of a planning issue for the City than a financing one, but still an important one nonetheless.

Frankly, I think that if it can be established that there isn't an advantage to building a downtown arena (and there might even be a disadvantage), then we can save a whole lot of time and trouble by identifying that now, not after months of work putting financing and a business case together.

Lamphier's article does go on to talk about how to pay, and quotes options that have been presented which are privately funded.

I am saying we need to help that discussion along, not the question of revitalization or not.

This overlooks the general principle of whether or not a downtown arena is desirable for both economic and social reasons. If someone was instead proposing building a South Edmonton Common-style shopping centre north of City Hall, and not a hockey arena, would you still be saying that the investment end of it is more important? Urban planning issues should not be overlooked regardless of what is being proposed.

Private funds, public lands....

Is it as simple as making the deal sound sweeter when no tax money is spent, only given away?

--I'd add my voice to those who recommend improving the Avenue of Broken Dreams...118th is a great opportunity just waiting to happen.

That was me.

Lamphier: "Walk two blocks in any direction and you're bound to be accosted by a small army of panhandlers or even crack dealers -- as I was on a recent afternoon stroll up 104th Street."

And building an arena will solve that problem? Seriously though, to be accosted by a small army of panhandlers AND crack dealers on the same damn day is certainly interesting.

I don't think I've ever been approached by any type of drug dealer, and I'm inclined to believe I'd by the type of person they would approach over a Gary Lamphier type.

As for panhandlers, well is it really all that bad? He makes it sound like he has to beat them off with a stick or something. A simple "No, sorry" will suffice. Heck if you have a toonie, why not? Are panhandlers really all that offensive?

Panhandling and/or homeless people are mutually exclusive to any major city in North America as far as I know.

It's becoming magnified in Edmonton because of the boom and influx of people from other provinces. One of my new co-workers is fresh from Ontario, and she knows at least 12 other people from her area that have moved to Edmonton in the past 6 months alone.

Social problems (drugs, homelessness, etc., etc.,) will not be solved by revitalizing downtown Edmonton with a hockey rink. Even if the plan works and revitalization occurs, that would most likely attract panhandlers/crack dealers, and not drive them away. Duh.


With that being said, I'm not opposed to a new arena. In 7 years when the lease expires the building will be 40 years old. Behind the CN tower, at Northlands, wouldn't make a difference to me. Either way I'm taking public transit, I enjoy having some beers when watching a game!

If some public money is spent, I'm not opposed to it at all. I'm quite disappointed that the RAM upgrades are being put on hold too. I rarely go to the museum, maybe once every few years (that may change if it is upgraded, everyone likes nice, shiny, new things), but its not like the money's being wasted. Same with the new Art Gallery. I'll probably go once just to check it out, but I don't think its a waste of taxpayers money even if the majority of taxpayers never visit it.

I'm not sure the number being thrown out in regards to private/public funding (85/15?), but I just don't see how its a bad thing for the city/province. Of course it would be great if it was completely privately funded. But I guess the argument could be made that the Oilers do benefit the city economically.

How long would it take to build a new arena? 2, 3 years. That means they wouldn't have to start for another 4 or 5 years. I have to say I like both ideas (revitalizing the Avenue of Broken Dreams, or having it downtown). I'd go, wherever it is eventually built.

If you build it, they will come? I think so.

^Shit, I forgot to put my name.


I am not well travelled enough to speak to the area around our nation's hockey arenas, but I can chip in with my 2 cents worth on the Saddledome situation. The area immediately around the Saddledome is the remains of Victoria Park, which the City/Stampede board has been quietly acquiring on a house by house basis for 20 years and is a slum of the worst order. The 17th Ave/Red Mile area is several blocks west of the Saddledome and does a pretty good custom most nights, even when the Flames aren't playing. It's become the 'strip' in the last few years, since Electric Avenue (11th Ave several blocks west) fizzled and died a decade ago.

I'm sure the bar owners in that area are happy with the uptick in business on some Flames nights, but their business is clearly not driven by having an arena in the area. If Flames Central succeeds on 8th Avenue, then that area may ebcome the next strip and it is several more blocks from the Saddledome.

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