In less than a year, Northlands will become a little bit quieter. The building has been the Edmonton Oiler’s only home since the franchise entered the NHL and is the second oldest arena in the league, just behind Madison Square Garden. But next season, the Oilers will be moving to their new stadium, Rogers Place the heart of the new Ice District, which means the Northlands Coliseum will be undergoing some changes. The changes could mean that Edmonton’s northern communities could be getting more ice, and Edmonton could become a hot spot for international winter competition.
Earlier this month, Coun. Michael Oshry told that city council had seen plans to split the Coliseum into two levels, more than doubling the amount of ice space available in the giant building and taking full advantage of its seating. Right now, six or seven rinks would be added to the facility with the new plan, creating an icy attraction in Edmonton’s north end.
Speaking to the Edmonton Journal, Darrell Davis, chair of the Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week tournament, praised the idea. “A facility like that would be a draw to all kinds of tournaments and even different sports, too, because I don’t think there’d be any problem turning it into lacrosse fields or indoor soccer,” he said. “I think it would be a big boon to the tournament industry.”
With ice all in the same spot, tournaments could ease up on the travel and commute times and foster a better community experience if all the ice was centrally located. It would make tournaments easier to schedule as well, since organizers wouldn’t have to book time at rinks around the city. The Minor League tournaments last year, for example, booked ice on 30 different rinks across the city, but with one ice complex, the logistics could be easier, and bigger tournaments could take full advantage as well, meaning Edmonton would be well-equipped to handle international competitions.
The new complex would be good for Edmonton residents as well, adding a number of much-needed rinks to the city’s already strained system. As most recreational hockey players know, ice time is difficult to book in Edmonton and the surrounding area, but additional rinks would ease the burden and help players get better times.
Overall, the proposed changes to the Northlands Coliseum could be good for Edmonton, both in terms of its residents and on the international stage. More rinks in a single facility would be great for tournaments and it will provide more ice for Edmonton’s many citizens.