Northlands Coliseum

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Coordinates: 53°34′17″N113°27′22″W / 53.57139°N 113.45611°W / 53.57139; -113.45611


Northlands Coliseum
Northlands Coliseum 2016.png
Rexall Place Edmonton Alberta Canada 07A.jpg
Exterior view of Rexall Place (c.2010)
Northlands Coliseum
Former namesNorthlands Coliseum (1974–95, 201617)
Edmonton Coliseum (1995–98)
Skyreach Centre (1998–2003)
Rexall Place (2003–16)
Address7424 118 Avenue
Location Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Public transit Edmonton Transit System logo.svg BSicon TRAM.svg MtlMetro5.svg Coliseum station
Owner Northlands (1974–2017)
City of Edmonton (2018–)
Capacity Hockey: 17,100
Concerts: 13,000 (approx) [1]
Field size497,700 sq ft (46,240 m2) [2]
Broke groundNovember 3, 1972
OpenedNovember 10, 1974
Renovated1994, 2001, 2007
ClosedJanuary 1, 2018
Construction cost C$17.3 million [3]
($90.5 million in 2020 dollars [4] )

1994: $14 million
($22.4 million in 2020 dollars [4] }
2001: $10 million [5]
($14 million in 2020 dollars [4] }
2007: $3.5 million
($4.3 million in 2020 dollars [4] }

Total cost:
$127.7 million in 2018 dollars
ArchitectPhillips, Barrett, Hillier, Jones Partners
Wynn, Forbes, Lord, Feldberg & Schmidt [6]
Structural engineerRead Jones Christoffersen Ltd. [7]
General contractorBatoni Bowlen Enterprises [8]
Main contractorsSE Johnson Ltd. (mechanical) [9]
Edmonton Oilers (WHA/NHL) (19742016)
Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) (20072016)
Edmonton Rush (NLL) (20062015)
Edmonton Drillers (CMISL) (2007)
Edmonton Road Runners (AHL) (2004–2005)
Edmonton Drillers (NPSL) (1996–2000)
Edmonton Sled Dogs (RHI) (1994)
Edmonton Skyhawks (NBL) (1993–1994)
Edmonton Drillers (NASL) (1980–1982)
Edmonton Oil Kings (WCHL) (19741976)
Official website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Northlands Coliseum, or simply the Coliseum, is a now-unused indoor arena located in Edmonton, Alberta, situated on the north side of Northlands. It was used for sports events and concerts, and was home to the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL), and the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The arena opened in 1974, and was later known as Edmonton Coliseum, Skyreach Centre, and Rexall Place, before returning to the Northlands Coliseum name in summer 2016.

The arena hosted the 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup hockey tournaments, the 1978 Commonwealth Games, seven Stanley Cup finals (Oilers losses in 1983 and 2006, and Oilers victories in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990), many other hockey events, along with other sporting events and major concerts.

The final NHL game played at the arena was on April 6, 2016. The building closed on New Year's Day 2018, after ownership of the facility was transferred from Northlands to the City of Edmonton. Northlands had planned to re-develop the arena into a multi-level ice facility, but these plans were scrapped after it was found that renovating the facility would be more costly than building a new one altogether. [10]


Skyreach Centre in 2001 Skyreach centre 2001.jpg
Skyreach Centre in 2001

The Coliseum opened in 1974 as a replacement for the aging Edmonton Gardens. While the Edmonton Oilers' ownership group, including Charles Allard, had initially pursued to construct their own arena, they backtracked and partnered with the Edmonton Exhibition Association (EEA, now Northlands)—the non-profit operator of Edmonton Gardens—after they expressed concern that Allard's proposed arena would "greatly impact and damage" the organization. [11] [12] The Association and others had made proposals for a downtown arena to replace Edmonton Gardens, but referendums on the matter were struck down by voters. [12]

The 16,000-seat arena used the same architect and plans as Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum. A crane was placed on a circular track to help speed up construction. The final months of construction process in 1974 hit several setbacks, including strikes by steelworkers, cement workers, and elevator workers, and the last batch of 5,000 seats arriving only shortly before its inaugural event—the Oilers' home opener on November 10, 1974, against the Cleveland Crusaders. [12] After its first game, the Coliseum received positive reviews by visitors and sportswriters. [12] The EEA held an official grand opening event open July 1, 1975. [12]

By the early-1990s, the Coliseum had begun to lag behind newer NHL arenas in terms of amenities such as luxury boxes. Amid financial turmoil, including the team having signed away multiple star players (such as Wayne Gretzky), team owner Peter Pocklington threatened to re-locate the Oilers unless he was given full control of the Coliseum and all of its revenue, and could build luxury boxes in the arena. [12] In 1994, he reached a rent agreement with Northlands valued at $2.8 million per-year. The agreement contained clauses requiring the Oilers to remain in Edmonton for 10 years, and requiring that the team be offered to local investors for a fixed price of US$70 million within 30 days if a current or proposed owner announces an intent to re-locate the team. [13] [12]

In 1997, a proposed sale to Leslie Alexander triggered the clause, resulting in the Edmonton Investors Group (EIG) being formed to purchase the team. [12] Northlands regained control of the Coliseum, with the Oilers agreeing to pay operational costs and $1 in rent per-year, in exchange for being able to receive revenue from hockey games and designated parking spots at the arena, and being able to sell naming rights. In October 1998, the Coliseum was renamed Skyreach Centre after a naming rights agreement with Skyreach Equipment. [14]

In November 2003, the naming rights were acquired by the pharmacy chain Rexall, under which it was renamed Rexall Place. [15] The chain's then-parent Katz Group later purchased the Oilers and the Oil Kings. [16]

Rexall Place logo, 2003 to 2016 Rexall Place Logo.svg
Rexall Place logo, 2003 to 2016

Before the 2007–08 season started, the Oilers dressing room underwent a $3.5 million renovation. The room is wider with a new medical room, lounge, bar, video room, weight room as well as other new facilities. [17]

Replacement by Rogers Place, closure

Given the age and small size of the Coliseum (which was third-oldest and third-smallest arena in the NHL as of 2010), the construction of a new arena for the Edmonton Oilers was proposed by the Katz Group in 2010. An agreement was reached in January 2012 between the Katz Group and the City of Edmonton for the construction of Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton. Construction started in March 2014, and it opened in September 2016 with a seating capacity of 18,347. [18] [19]

The Oilers' final game at Rexall Place was played on April 6, 2016, against the Vancouver Canucks. The Oilers won 6–2; the last NHL goal was scored by Oiler Leon Draisaitl. A post-game ceremony was held, featuring current and past Oilers players. [20] Northlands stated that the old arena would remain open, [21] and a number of concerts and sporting events were still held there even after the Oilers left.

On February 17, 2016, Northlands unveiled plans to convert Northlands Coliseum into a multi-level ice facility, [22] [23] with a later proposal calling for a partnership with Hockey Canada to make it a Hockey Canada Centre of Excellence, but it was later discovered that renovating the Coliseum would be more costly than building a new facility. [24] [25]

As more major concerts and other events were drawn away to Rogers Place, Northlands experienced declines in revenue. This made it difficult for the non-profit organization to pay off a loan by the City that was used to fund the 2009 expansion of the Edmonton Expo Centre. On September 13, 2017, the City of Edmonton reached an agreement to take over the arena from Northlands effective January 1, 2018 (the same date that control of the Edmonton Expo Centre transferred to the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation under a similar agreement), as it prepared to transition to primarily being an agricultural organization. The venue permanently ceased operations on that date; Oilers Entertainment Group also agreed to release the city from a $17 million (out of $20 million) sponsorship agreement. [26] [27] [28]

Despite other proposals from parties wanting to convert the Coliseum to a sports and recreation facility, the master agreement between Oilers Entertainment Group and the city of Edmonton prohibits the city from making any further investments in the building, nor allowing it to be used as a sports or entertainment facility. Plans to repurpose the Northlands site have proposed the demolishment of the Coliseum. [29]

Arena information

Rexall Place at night Rexall-Place-Night (c)FotoHeimoKramer.jpg
Rexall Place at night

The official capacity for hockey when the arena closed was 16,839, which was slightly less than the 17,100 the arena held before the 2001–02 NHL season. It was one of three NHL arenas (the others being the MTS Centre in Winnipeg and Barclays Center in Brooklyn) seating less than 17,000 fans in its configuration. When it opened, the capacity was 15,423, but it was increased to 17,490 after the Oilers joined the NHL by adding an extra tier of seating on the side opposite the press box. This was increased to 17,498 in 1982 and to 17,503 in 1986. The arena underwent an extensive renovation in 1994 in which the seating capacity was reduced to make way for 52 luxury suites. 15 more suites were added in 2001. The arena could also be noisy, as noise levels reached 119 decibels during playoff games. [30]

Northlands Coliseum was the first NHL arena in Canada to have a centre-hung scoreboard with an electronic messageboard; the original scoreboard including a black-and-white dot matrix board. This was replaced in 1987 by a centre-hung scoreboard with a colour matrix screen, which in 1994 was replaced with an eight-sided scoreboard with four video screens. The last centre-hung scoreboard, designed by White Way Sign, [31] featured eight message boards at the top and four video screens at the bottom, separated by LED rings. The arena also featured 360-degree fascia signage by Daktronics.

The Coliseum was the last NHL arena with the player benches on the same side as the TV cameras. In all other NHL venues, the TV cameras are on the same side as the scorekeepers table and penalty boxes. [32]

Notable events

Live recordings

The following bands recorded live performances in the arena:

See also

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