Wednesday, January 09, 2008

 

In Praise of Tradition, or And I Will Always Love You

I know I keep harping on the proposed arena deal and the ownership stuff, while ignoring the on-ice activities of the Edmonton Oilers. I know. And I'd say I was sorry, if I was. But I'm not. The virtue of the Oilogosphere is that by hitting up five or six or twenty of our sites, a reader is going to get full coverage of the team and everything that comes with it. Daily. For free. My own take therefore is to not worry much about covering all the angles, or pleasing all our readers. The way I see it, the Oilogosphere is a community: my posts are their posts and their posts are my posts. It's all there, man, and it's all one. Surf, and be merry.

So--shockingly--back to the arena. Many points were made in the GUFC post the other day, but one I'd like to pick up on a bit is something that was mentioned by Cosh.

And here's another Fact: having a classic facility is often considered a selling point in other sports. This is just my opinion, but anybody who thinks that the building where Gretzky and Messier played should be blown up, and replaced with a facility indistinguishable from those in 27 other towns in order to attract tourism, is ineligible for any discussion that concerns marketing.

What did Sidney Crosby say when he came to Edmonton for the first time a couple months ago? Was it "God, this is a fucking awful place to play hockey, the fans must hate it"? Or was it "I'm filled with humility and excitement to be playing in this arena"? You could look it up.


The comment made me think of a recent article by Jim Caple, in which he talks about Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are moving to a new stadium this year, while the Red Sox will continue to play in an (improved) Fenway Park. I can't say it any better than Caple does, so I won't bother.

Yankee Stadium probably is the most important athletic facility in America. The House That Ruth Built is where Notre Dame won one for the Gipper, the NFL Giants won one for the ages, and the New York Yankees just won and won and won; where Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Billy Martin all fought; where Roger Clemens and George W. Bush both pitched; and where the religious faithful listened to the voice of the Pope and the voice of God (otherwise known as Bob Sheppard).

And, after next season, the Yankees will give history a Bronx cheer and move into a new stadium...

The best part of Fenway Park, however, remains its history.

I know a new stadium would have all the typical modern amenities, as well as seats wide enough that sitting through an extra-inning game wouldn't be like being trapped on a cross-country flight in a middle seat between Oprah and Hurley from "Lost." Fans wouldn't be stuck with the occasional expensive seat behind a steel beam that blocks their view so much they can't even see Manny Ramirez's dreadlocks flopping as he jogs out a ground ball. And perhaps there would even be enough additional seats that you wouldn't need to be related to John Henry or Larry Lucchino to get a ticket. But so much history would have been lost here -- just as it will be when Yankee Stadium is replaced.

Fenway Park is where Babe Ruth pitched, Ted Williams hit and Carlton Fisk danced down the first-base line. It's where drunk fans have mercilessly heckled everyone from Ty Cobb to Barry Bonds. It's where -- like Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones in "Field of Dreams" -- you can sit in the stands and feel connected to nearly a century of baseball. The history is so rich here, you can practically smell the Babe's beer breath.

(Or maybe that's just the fan about to throw up in the seat next to you.)

You just can't replace that type of history, no matter how much money you squeeze out of the taxpayers and tourists renting cars. It's just a shame the Yankees didn't realize that. Frankly, any stadium in which the Babe hit a home run should be protected by federal statute.


Reading that article, along with Colby's comments, I'm left wondering about the "cost" of a new hockey arena in Edmonton, in terms of what would be lost. I've had the pleasure of seeing a game at Fenway Park, back on May 5th, 1999. The Sox got beat up, I didn't get to see Pedro pitch, I couldn't get a hot chocolate, some college students near to us got arrested and thrown out for celebrating Cinco de Mayo a bit too thoroughly, and the men's bathroom looked like something out of Trainspotting. It was a rough day. It didn't matter, though. I was at Fenway Park, in the very heart of Red Sox Nation. In fact, I remember little about the actual game itself. What I remember is the surroundings. I was in awe. Ten days later, owner John Harrington announced plans for a new Fenway Park, which would look like Fenway Park, sound like Fenway Park, but, of course, wouldn't be Fenway Park. At the time, I counted my blessings, glad that I at least got to see one game at the real Fenway. Thankfully, Harrington's vision never became a reality, and I can now look forward to someday going back to that stadium, along with (hopefully) my wife and children.

I can't say the same for Ebbets Field, former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. My favourite athlete of all-time is Jackie Robinson. I've idolized the man my entire life. He was a great man, and a great ball player. Yet I'll never be able to step foot in the stadium where Robinson played baseball. I'll never be able to point out to my son the home base he stole on Warren Spahn in 1948, or the green grass on which he first integrated black and white in 1947. Tragically, Ebbets Field was demolished in February of 1960; all that remains now is a plaque and some apartment buildings (this ESPN story tells the tale).

And what about fans looking to visit or attend games at historic NHL stadiums? Chicago Stadium has been demolished. So, too, the Olympia Stadium in Detroit and the "Gahden" in Boston. Maple Leaf Gardens is still standing, but is broken down and empty. The Montreal Forum, home to the second most successful team in the history of North American professional sport, is now an entertainment centre. That means no hockey is currently being played in an Original Six arena. Madison Square Garden IV, where the Rangers play today, was built in 1968, a year after the NHL's expansion to twelve teams.

Since the NHL stopped competing against other leagues, the Stanley Cup has been awarded seventy-nine times to eighteen different teams.


Stanley Cups Won Since 1926-27
Canadiens-22
Maple Leafs-11
Red Wings-10
Bruins-5
Oilers-5
Islanders-4
Rangers-4
Blackhawks-3
Devils-3
Avalanche-2
Flyers-2
Penguins-2
*Senators-1
Flames-1
Stars-1
Lightning-1
Hurricanes-1
Ducks-1


Interestingly, many of the stadiums where those teams played, and where their Stanley Cups were awarded, have either been demolished or are no longer in use by NHL teams. In addition to Maple Leaf Gardens (1931-1999), the Boston Garden (1928-1995), Olympia Stadium (1927-1979), the Montreal Forum (1924-1996), Chicago Stadium (1929-1994) and Madison Square Garden III (1925-1968), the Auditorium in Ottawa, the Spectrum in Philadelphia, the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey, the McNichols Arena in Denver, and Reunion Arena in Dallas have either been knocked down or abandoned.

Obviously, not every Stanley Cup winner has won the Cup on home ice. But most Stanley Cups have been won in arenas that have been destroyed or are no longer in use. 61 of 79 Stanley Cups, or 77%, to be exact. In addition to the many arenas listed above, Stanley Cups have been won in the St. Louis Arena (Canadiens in 1969), the Buffalo Auditorium (Flyers in 1975) and the Pacific Coliseum (Islanders in 1982), none of which are in use today (the St. Louis Arena has been demolished, and the Buffalo Auditorium will be demolished in 2008). Of the Original Six teams, Detroit (1997, 1998, 2002), Montreal (1986), Boston (1972) and New York (1994) have won Cups in still-in-use arenas (the Wings won two in Joe Louis, and one at the Verizon Center, the Canadiens won one at the Saddledome, while the Bruins and Rangers won one each at MSG IV). The Leafs and Hawks haven't won a single Cup outside of an Original Six arena (their Cup victories all pre-date expansion), and the Canadiens and Bruins haven't won a Cup anywhere since the Forum and Garden closed (or even made the Finals).

So what arenas can NHL fans look to if they want to soak up some Stanley Cup history? The best answer, actually, lies right here in Edmonton. The Oilers have won five Stanley Cups, and have lost in the Finals two other times. Four of those Stanley Cup wins came at Northlands Coliseum, now named Rexall Place (the other win came in Boston Garden in 1990, while the two losses came at Nassau Coliseum in 1983 and the RBC Center in 2006). The next best option is Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. The Islanders won Stanley Cups there in 1980, 1981 and 1983 (they won in Vancouver in 1982, and lost in Edmonton in 1984). Two Stanley Cups have been awarded to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, in 1997 and 2002 (the Wings won in Washington in 1998, and lost in New Jersey in 1995). Two Cups have also been awarded at MSG IV. The Rangers won there in 1994, while the Bruins won there in 1972 (the Rangers also lost to the Habs in Montreal in 1979). Interestingly, the Penguins won both their Stanley Cups away from Mellon Arena, in stadiums that have since been demolished (Chicago Stadium and the Met Center in Minnesota). Twenty Stanley Cup Finals games have been played at Rexall Place, the most of any active arena in the NHL. Nassau Coliseum is next with twelve games, with Joe Louis, the Saddledome, and Madison Square Garden IV all hosting nine.


Current NHL Arenas Where Stanley Cups Have Been Won
Rexall Place (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988)
Nassau Colisuem (1980, 1981, 1983)
Madison Square Garden IV (1972, 1994)
Joe Louis Arena (1997, 2002)
Pengrowth Saddledome (1986)
Verizon Center (1998)
HSBC Center (1999)
Pepsi Center (2001)
St. Pete Times Forum (2004)
RBC Center (2006)
Honda Center/ Pond (2007)


Although my focus here has only been on stadiums where Stanley Cups have been won, the fact of the matter is that you can walk into very few arenas in the NHL today and instantly be a part of history. You can't visit the stadiums where Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante, Guy Lafleur, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Sid Abel, Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuk, Johhny Bucyk, Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Bernie Parent, Eddie Shore, King Clancy, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Daryl Sittler, Glenn Hall, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Andy Bathgate, Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perrault, or Bobby Clarke played their home games. Those cathedrals are empty, otherwise occupied, or long, long gone. Many of those players skated in Madison Square Garden IV. Some even played in Rexall Place, Nassau Colisuem, Joe Louis Arena, and the Mellon Arena. But that's likely as deep, and as far, as you'll get. A fan can't walk into the Montreal Forum today and imagine the atmosphere of March 17th, 1955, the night of the Richard Riot. Nor can he walk into Boston Garden and picture May 10th, 1970, when Bobby Orr scored an overtime goal on Glenn Hall, giving the Bruins the Cup. Opportunities for moments like that are simply no longer available to fans in the majority of NHL cities.

But you can do it in Edmonton. In Edmonton, you can walk up to Rexall Place knowing that within those walls the last hockey dynasty was born, out of the ashes of another. You can look at the Stanley Cup, President's Trophy, Smythe Division, Campbell Conference and Western Conference banners hanging from the rafters and know that they were actually earned on the ice below. You can see the dents in the locker room doors and know that they were put there in frustration by warriors who hated to lose. You can stand in the arena where on December 30, 1981, Wayne Gretzky scored five goals against the Philadelphia Flyers, giving him his 50th goal in his 39th game, blowing away a record previously set by Maurice Richard (and tied by Mike Bossy). Or where, on October 15th 1989, Gretzky, now a member of the Los Angeles Kings, scored his 1,851 career point, breaking the all-time record set by Gordie Howe. You can sit in the stadium where Glen Sather and Badger Bob Johnson would yell and scream and play mind-games with each other. You can walk around the arena where Glenn Anderson would drive to the net on Billy Smith, who would then slash him with his lumber. You can be in the place that hosted six Super Series games between 1976 and 1991, the most of any active arena in the NHL. You can hang out in the playing grounds for ten Canada Cup games between 1976 and 1991, the most of any active arena in the NHL. You can lean over and talk to a season-ticket holder who has been in that exact same seat for twenty years, who will tell you that they were at the Canada Cup final between Team Canada and Team Sweden in 1984, as well as the infamous round-robin game from that same year between Team Canada and Team U.S.S.R., where Mark Messier rearranged with his elbow the face of Vldimir Kovin. You can show your daughter the retired numbers up above, and tell them that Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Coffey and Fuhr became Hall of Famers right there, right there, in front of an admiring audience's eyes. You can drive up Wayne Gretzky Drive happily, knowing that its goal isn't to escort you to the Yellowhead or Fort Road or points far beyond, but to ease your weary mind by taking you directly to sacred, and holy, ground.

You can do all that at Rexall Place, in Edmonton. For now. It's funny that, in a city so proud of its hockey traditions, a city that mythologizes its hockey history, there has been so little talk about preserving the building where some of the game's greatest moments have occurred, just for that reason. The reality is that Edmonton is not Boston, New York, Toronto or Montreal. Its realities are different. Hockey is also a different game than, say, baseball, and what can be done to preserve or enhance the quality of a baseball stadium might not be possible with a hockey arena. I get that. I also understand that moving to a new stadium doesn't automatically mean that the old one will disappear. I get that, too. Yet looking at all this, at how few of the old arenas still exist, at all the ghosts that have been exorcised and all the memories that have been exploded, I can't help but feel that we as a city have an obligation to ourselves, as well as to the league and the game, to find a way to keep our team playing in that stadium. Some will say that we should just move on, that fresh memories will be made in a new, improved, and therefore better, facility. I doubt that, because I've talked to fans who've been to the United Center in Chicago, or the Fleet Center in Boston. It isn't just that the experience isn't the same. It's that it's verifiably worse. So much of the value in sport is tied into its ability to create history, generate nostalgia, and form traditions. So much of its value is in connecting generations through a shared, and common, experience. Are any of us really keen on staring at a plaque or a dilapidated building twenty years from now and saying to our children or grandchildren, "this used to be The Rink That Gretzky Built?"




The Oilers website provides a pretty neat virtual tour of Rexall Place. There's also a cool NHL timeline graphic that somebody put up on Wikipedia. Have a look if you haven't already.

Labels:


Comments:

Looking forward to your announcing a run for city council. Let's hope it's not too late for the Coliseum.
 


Wow, that was an amazing piece Andy.
 


That was a classic Grabia post, i.e. GINOURMOUS.

Thanks for the kind words, gents.
 


Wow Andy, this is a really fantastic piece of journalism. I'd seriously approach the Journal with this and seeing if they would consider running it as a guest editorial. This is a brilliant argument that way more people should hear.
 


Amen, brutha.


you know, i'm sure i've posted this before, but i'd rather see them 'revitalize' the area around the existing stadium. the area/neighbourhoods around Rexall and 118th Ave., although a lot less sketchy than they were, could still use a lot of 'love'. Not too mention the history of the areana, as Andy most gloriously wrote. and while they're at it - what about (historic) Fort Road? isn't that where the city grew outwards from? expand/develop/revitalize the stadium and surrounding area in THAT direction, it needs it way more than downtown does.

Downtown E-town is just fine the way it is. my god, a reasonable new concert hall, a new art gallery, new City Hall, new Churchill Square... if that sort of stuff doesn't draw people down town, a new hockey rink sure as hell won't.
 


No doubt it's tricky remodeling an old arena or building a new one.

Building Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore - great, great job, because they kept the flavor of the city and used features such as the old warehouse in the design. With the brick and ironwork it really fits into the city and doesn't look new. (Too bad the team is dreadful.)

Wrigley Field in Chicago - falling apart and in a bit of disrepair, but still loved by those who don't think of it as a dump. The ivy-covered walls and brick backstop are recognizable within an instant. Might be more cost-efficient to tear it down and build a new park, but they would lose so much of the flavor of the place that rehabbing is the way to go - no matter how expensive. There isn't a price on the history that would be lost.

And a huge, HUGE mistake - anyone see the remodeled Soldier Field in Chicago? There's a reason they call it the Mother Ship or the Mistake by the Lake. 100% dreadful crap.

If they decide, after CAREFUL THOUGHT, NOT KNEE-JERK REACTION that a new arena is the best choice, I hope they are very careful in choosing an architectural firm and designing a building that doesn't have a cookie-cutter sameness about it, like so many other buildings.
 


Man, there must have been smoke coming off your keyboard for about 2 hours after you posted this. Nice man, really nice.

But I do have this niggly question. Lets assume we keep Rexall. If we suppose the cap will be about, I dunno, $65 million ten years from now - how do you propose we raise the revenue to be competitive given all other sources of revenue are (and will be) maxed out? The thought is that ticket prices alone won't be able to support the revenue demand. So...any ideas?
 


"I hope they are very careful in choosing an architectural firm and designing a building that doesn't have a cookie-cutter sameness about it, like so many other buildings."

Its already been done. I think I've heard Stantec did the design and Clarke Builders is the designated fabricator (anybody out there correct me if I'm mistaken).
 


I hope they are very careful in choosing an architectural firm and designing a building that doesn't have a cookie-cutter sameness about it, like so many other buildings.

I just know they'll go with the glass and pyramid look that's already ruining our downtown. Shudder.


If we suppose the cap will be about, I dunno, $65 million ten years from now - how do you propose we raise the revenue to be competitive given all other sources of revenue are (and will be) maxed out?

We get an owner worth a few billion dollars? :)
 


I would make the following argument in response to your (excellent) article, Andy:

The classic stadia of North America (Maple Leaf Gardens, the Forum, soon-to-be-the-former Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, the first two Madison Square Gardens, Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium, etc. etc.) have more in common than just history. They have a >uniqueness. If you dropped me down in Fenway Park with your magical teleporting machine and took down everything that said "Boston" or "Red Sox", I'd instantly know I was in Fenway Park even though I've never been there in my life. Throw me in the stands for a Habs game in 1977 and you wouldn't need to tell me where I was.

Rexall Place is not distinctive. It is a giant concrete block with ice in the middle. It is a classic example of 1970s stadium construction: boring as hell. There's history, but the arena itself is so dull that it defies belief.

To put it another way, most of the arguments against Edmonton arena-building are economic or ethical. In Boston and New York, the main factor was a genuine love for the building, yet in Edmonton, Andy's is the first argument more involved than a five-sentence comment in a related blog post that I've seen along those lines.

To put it another way, if Katz bought the Oilers with a pledge that he'd pay for an entire new arena rather than just $100 million of it, how far would the "Save Rexall" argument go?

Say what you will about Pyramidville Alberta, at least it's undeniably Edmonton. This is why I loved going to Safeco Field in Seattle even though the Mariners haven't won boo and wouldn't have ever been to Rexall in my life if the Oilers weren't still playing there. You never forget a truly distinctive stadium.
 


Its already been done. I think I've heard Stantec did the design...
Stantec. Mandel. Somebody needs to connect these dots.
 


I'm not usually the biggest fan of the non-hockey-posts that seem to be inundating sites lately, but this really is a fantastic post. Good work.
 


But Andy, isn't the sanctum sanctorum of Rexall the OLD dressing room, were Gretzky's sweat stained the floor, where Coffey's skates etched marks, where Messier taped his stick and threw the extra into the trash bins. Wasn't this the center of the Oiler dreamcast that the Oiler management decided was old shite and decided to 'renew' to help attract UFA's? 3million to help improve the team or 3million to piss on Oiler tradition? Forgive me, but I didn't hear a lot of fond nostalgic remembrance then from Oiler nation.
 


I think Lorb Bob hits the nail on the head. If we apply the question, "would we be objecting to a free building here," I think it brings us to the heart of the matter.

LB's best point is that this kind of argument makes the arena debate a different kind of debate, one which (I'll add) you have seemed to shirk in the past: what is at stake is a symbol of what kind of city Edmonton wants to be. What if I don't like history or tradition, but prefer having a symbol of progress? What if, for me, Rexall is a reminder of living in the past? What if, for me, aesthetic nightmares are worth rectifying, even at a handsome public cost?
 


You never forget a truly distinctive stadium.

Granted, but the question is, how do you define distinctive? I hear you on the aesthetics of Rexall. It's a giant round slab. But at what point do the accomplishments and history within become the distinctive feature, rather than the architecture? I mean, after doing all this research, I can't come to any other conclusion than that Rexall is extremely unique. Mellon is on its way out, and Nassau is expected to follow. Then you'll have MSG, Rexall and the Joe. That's it. Hockey won't have been lived anywhere else. There's a history in there that I don't think we can throw away. The inside of the building is pretty damn nice. And the exterior you can hide by refurbishing, growing or building around. Make the area around Rexall nicer, and we'll barely notice how ugly it is. Look at this picture of Pacific Coliseum. It's identical to Rexall, and yet it looks a thousand times better than Rexall just because there's green grass growing on the site.
 


one which (I'll add) you have seemed to shirk in the past: what is at stake is a symbol of what kind of city Edmonton wants to be.

I've never shirked away from that. I just don't agree that a new arena will rocket us up the Global Urban Food Chain, or that we're a backwater city. I actually spend an inordinate amount of time looking at cities, globalization, the knowledge economy, etc, etc. And if we're doing this just to build symbols, might I suggest a 1000 foot Colossus that straddles the North Saskatchewan? I guarantee that gets us noticed. :)
 


Andy, thank you for the wonderful post. I've been going to Rexall since 1974 and although it's no big deal architecturally, it's the experience. I love walking around for a lap or two before the game.

But I don't think emotional history, let alone visual history will have a chance here.

The Oilers dumped their distinctive uniform colors that they won 5 Stanley Cups with. Now that is a shame and a travesty.
 


I'm not usually the biggest fan of the non-hockey-posts that seem to be inundating sites lately, but this really is a fantastic post.

Dave, thank you for the kind words. I do disagree with your initial statement, though. This is a hockey post. I don't think I paid much attention at all to the business of hockey. That being said, if you don't want to deal with the business of hockey, I would suggest traveling back in time to a date prior to August 9th, 1988.
 


So, to be clear Andy, you would object to a new building built entirely by Katz?
 


That being said, if you don't want to deal with the business of hockey, I would suggest traveling back in time to a date prior to August 9th, 1988.

Man, that was way snarkier than I intended. I'm just going to apologize to Dave before he even gets back here. All I meant was that the business stuff became impossible to avoid after that day.
 


So, to be clear Andy, you would object to a new building built entirely by Katz?

I'd kindly suggest he use all that money on improving the existing site (arena and surroundings). Oh, and that he pay off my student loans.
 


how far would the "Save Rexall" argument go?

Until Katz at least says he'll pay for ALL of the new building?
 


Until Katz at least says he'll pay for ALL of the new building?

Well, yeah, we all know he's never going to do that because he's sane and knows that Mandel is squeeing Hot Oil-style to spend Edmonton's money on rinks rather than roads. It was more meant to be hypothetical.

I mean, after doing all this research, I can't come to any other conclusion than that Rexall is extremely unique. Mellon is on its way out, and Nassau is expected to follow. Then you'll have MSG, Rexall and the Joe. That's it.

That's still three of thirty NHL arenas, or ten percent; not exactly nothing. I do agree that Pacific Coliseum looks nicer with more pleasant ground, but there are two problems there:

1) it looks nicer than Rexall, but it doesn't look as nice as, say, GM Place, despite the fact that GM Place is surrounded by highways and meth users and isn't all that brilliant to begin with.

I will also add that I've been to Pacific Coliseum and that is an insanely flattering picture compared to how I've seen it. That little promenade you see around the centre looks far dorkier up close, especially (at least Rexall doesn't have that problem!).

2) bearing in mind that I don't live around Edmonton anymore and didn't hang out in the Rexall area much when I did, how much could Katz or anybody else do about those grounds? Most of them are owned by the city, most of the immediate surroundings are constantly full parking lots, important roads, and bits of transit. At least downtown, you could leech off what was already there and wouldn't have to surround it with new infrastructure.

Naturally, what makes a building memorable is entirely personal. Clearly you like Rexall, Andy, and there's no way to argue with somebody else's opinion. But, by and by large, Rexall doesn't bring the love out of Edmontonians the way the Forum did for Montrealers or the Gardens did for Torontonians. Even the Boston Garden was crummy enough to be beloved; Rexall is too good a rink to be a fun one.
 


If the city wants to put their half billion to good use, and if they still adamantly refuse to fix the potholes that are systematically destroying my car one jolt at a time, why not do something about 118th? Like, oh I don't know, some Police? Some rezoning?

What is it zoned for anyway? Post-Apocalyptic nightmares? I mean come on. Let's deal with our pissed pants before we shell out for veneers and bling, okay?

There's nothing wrong with Rexall a bit of TLC couldn't cure. And everything wrong with exploding the fucker just to build a new MegaFocalPointHoboEradicator right between a developing downtown and character Chinatown and Little Italy, effectively killing the burgeoning foot traffic and shopping (dare I say "revitalization"?) that is currently developing already.

[This drunken rant brought to you by alcohol. Sweet alcohol]
 


Andy, I think you need to put some sort of "tear-jerker" warning on top of this post.

I've been to one game at Rexall (a snoozer against Vancouver last season), and I "felt" a little bit of what Andy is talking about. Inasmuch as you can feel something like that.

This is the house that Gretzky built, and even though I was cheering for the visitors, you simply cannot get away from it. The damned rafters continually catch your eye, as they should. I can just imagine who was sitting in my seat twenty-odd years early, watching and cheering while Gretzky raised the cup with that fantastic grin on his face.
 


But, by and by large, Rexall doesn't bring the love out of Edmontonians the way the Forum did for Montrealers or the Gardens did for Torontonians. Even the Boston Garden was crummy enough to be beloved; Rexall is too good a rink to be a fun one.

Rexall Place: too good not to tear down!

Edmontonians don't show their love for the building much, no. If we are to assume that a new arena is a genuinely popular idea, they're being successfully swayed by the tacit arguments embedded in phrases like "aspirational cities" and "world-class". (Or by the weirdly seductive promise of being more like Columbus, Ohio.)

But who, aside from Andy*, has bothered to offer them the contrary argument?--that the one thing Edmonton doesn't have to "aspire" to is having been the home of the greatest pro hockey team that ever existed. And that the physical heritage of that achievement has value.

*"Andy", here, meaning "Me, plus about 1,800 words"
 


And, incidentally, just how much would you younger gentlemen and ladies really like to wake up today and learn that the wrecking ball was poised over the Coliseum? Anybody have any interest in one day taking their children to see an Oilers game at the old building where Fuhr manned the net and Paul Lorieau let the crowd take over the anthem? Should we wait for you and then knock it down?
 


Don't forget the "new" nostalgia from Rexall. Lorieau and Joey leading the crowd, and then just letting them take over, in the most breathtaking renditions of O Canada that I can recollect -- that springs to mind for me too.

Not the most rational thing on which to hang your argument against a new stadium, granted. I guess my point is if you tear down Rexall, you hate Canada, and probably the troops too.
 


Wow, Cosh. Get the hell out of my head.
 


I know a guy who bought a couple of seats from The Forum off of ebay when it was demolished. Sure, he's a bit obsessive (with his "Habs Room" and all) but there you go. What's my point? I'd rather not get a new stadium, but one way or another, people hold onto the past.

Hell, look at the Leafs.

And we're coming pretty close to Leafs territory as Oilers fans...
 


I'm embarrassed that I left the national anthem moment out of the post. Can I just steal it and add it in? Anyone? I'm welling up just thinking about it.
 


Has anyone considered what is requiered to retro fit and expand
Rexall place. Tearing down the exterior walls and taking off the roof. So were does the team play for that two to three year period that is required.

Winnipeg Oilers
Sakatoon Oilers

He I here Southern Ontario would be nice.
Hamilton Oilers

I am more nostalgic for the team being the Edmonton Oilers For those two to three Years than a sub-standard Arena.

Besides talking nostalgia about a featureless building(great comment Lord Bob)creeps me out.
 


I am more nostalgic for the team being the Edmonton Oilers For those two to three Years than a sub-standard Arena.

Sub-standard arena? Oh, right. Literally Crush. My bad.
 


Can I just steal it and add it in?

I can't speak for Cosh, but it's fine with me. It was a shared moment.
 


Andy the sub standard was sarcasm. The building issue is attendance and real estate development. Plus keeping the Oilers in Edmonton for those two to Three years.

Besides I want the arena in the downtown. It is a good start for location when we creat other new sports structures. We will need to replace Commenwealth stadium when we bid for the (that big money loser) the Summer Olympics.
 


Off Topic:

Horcoff an Allstar! YEH!
 


Great post Andy.

There, I commented. Happy now?

;)

I've been to Wrigley and Maple Leaf Gardens and White Hart Lane in North London as well as the old Chicago Stadium. The second last game played in the old Stadium actually and a playoff game at that.

Going to an old stadium far far beats out the experience at a cookie cutter.

Having said that while the argument is compelling to me its not going to win the day, I'm afraid.

When the new arena is built it will be up to whomever designs it to make it special. The ghosts may not cross the street (or in this case move downtown) but I'd take Camden Yards, if you get my drift.
 


Horcoff an Allstar! YEH!

Shut up! YES!
 


Anybody have any interest in one day taking their children to see an Oilers game at the old building where Fuhr manned the net and Paul Lorieau let the crowd take over the anthem? Should we wait for you and then knock it down?

I haven't produced my spawn yet, but I wouldn't have any trouble bouncing them on my knee in The Edmonton Journal Presents TELUS Arena in downtown Edmonton.

Having slept on it, though, I suspect that half the problem for me is that I never saw any of the great years (including 2006) in Rexall. If I'd been in the stands when Messier did his thing or if I'd been one of the ones belting out that anthem, I can't honestly say whether my opinion would be the same.

Going to an old stadium far far beats out the experience at a cookie cutter.

I just think that Rexall is a cookie cutter, albeit an old one.

P.S.: HORCOFF AND DIE!
 


Having said that while the argument is compelling to me its not going to win the day, I'm afraid.

Why not? Are we not men!? Seriously, though, if Nassau, Rexall and Mellon all fall, there will be one rink left with any significant history in it. That will be MSG. Joe Louis is only 30 years old, and the Wings won Cups during the deadpuck era that none of us care about anyway. ;) That bothers the hell out of me. It's the history that makes thes stadiums unique, and valuable, not their infrastructure. Lambeau Field looks like any other stadium from the outside. It's what is inside that counts.
 


Man, that was way snarkier than I intended. I'm just going to apologize to Dave before he even gets back here. All I meant was that the business stuff became impossible to avoid after that day.

Andy: It's all good, I got what you meant. I have interest in business myself, but I do confess that the business surrounding the Oilers and the Canucks usually doesn't interest me much at all -- if it was the Flames I'd certainly be more interested. So I usually skip the articles, but this one caught my eye and certainly was well-worth the read.

The suggestion above on seeing if the Journal would carry it as a guest editorial is a very good one. It's certainly a far better piece of journalism most sports sections give us these days.
 


Why is it not going to win the day - see your comment about 1988.

Or the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn?

Or the Black Sox.

Etc etc etc ad nauseum.

Moneymoneymoneymoney.
 


Keep The Faith, BDHS. Keep The Faith.
 


The team makes the arena, not the other way around. Touting an arena's history doesn't do much for most of us.
 


Most of who?
 


The team makes the arena, not the other way around. Touting an arena's history doesn't do much for most of us.

I too am interested in who "most of us" is, because it surely can't be sports fans. And the team indeed does make the arena, but that was the entire point.
 


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