This “Old” Barn

18 Nov

At the City of Edmonton’s Executive Committee meeting last evening, the Finance & Treasury Department provided a two-page report regarding Northlands’ repayment for the EXPO Center, as well as an infrastructure assessment report for Rexall Place. The assessment report, prepared this year, “indicates that Rexall Place has been well maintained and is in good condition for a building of its age (opened in 1974).” Some highlights:

  • Architectural elements are in good condition, with any items recommended for attention being minor in nature. Some low priority painting and sealing is recommended.
  • The building envelope appears to be well maintained and in good condition. No indications of moisture infiltration or related damage were noted. The main building roofing system is in good condition. Attention to the roof over some small ancillary areas is recommended.
  • Structural components are in good to very good condition, with minor concrete sealing and repairs recommended.
  • Mechanical components are in good condition. The building heating and cooling plants have recently been renewed. Replacement of the fans in the arena air handling units is recommended in the near future.
  • Electrical components are in very good condition. Replacements and improvements have been made to the main electrical service, lighting, and fire alarm systems.

Most importantly, the report notes that “Northlands has updated its capital replacement plan and estimates that approximately $31 million is the total cumulative investment required to maintain the existing building at its current standard and level of operations through the end of the 2023 operating year, consistent with the 50 year economic life of the structure.

Bold is mine.

Rexall Place is neither old, nor in poor shape. It’s undergone three renovations since it opened, first in 1994, then in 2001, and finally, in 2007. The reality is that the building is in the middle of its life cycle, and has been very well taken care of. Something to keep in mind the next time someone, including the MayorPatrick LaForge, and City Administration, trots out a line about Edmonton’s old, and therefore bad, hockey barn.

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8 Responses to “This “Old” Barn”

  1. The Other John November 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Sweet Haysus

    I repeatedly fail to see why so many people refer to a publicly funded arena kickstarting a “a major addition to a huge section of downtown, ancillary development, new and bigger rink, bars, restaurants, office space, kick-starting The Quarters redevelopment”

    What if there is no ancillary development? “Build it and they will come”? there is ZERO demand for 2 new office towers downtown. Not a single developer has been quotes as saying they intend to build not one but two office buildings. None, Zip, Nada!! New hotels….OMG, the exact same demand as office towers.

    So the ancillary development will be what again???

    At a taxpayers subsidy of $350 MILLION DOLLARS

    Now if the ask was for 1/4 of the cost of a new arena, I would not be so against it but we are paying for the rink and GIVING it to a private businessman.

    And without ancillary development we cannot pay for it now and if interest rates go up and they will, we could have a major financial problem on our hands. The Oilers? they will have a new arena paid for and all of the revenue stream from it

  2. FACLC November 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    Personally, every time somebody goes off about “our old hockey barn” I just ask them if they’ve ever dreamed of going to Wrigley Field. Or Fenway. I took a trip to NYC in order to revisit The House That Ruth Built one last time.

    Old venues, assuming they aren’t falling apart, are an ASSET, not a liability.

  3. David S November 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    If this issue was only about an arena, I’d probably be on board with what you’re saying.

    But its not. And using nice deflections like “current standard and level of operations” neatly ignores the fact that the estimated cost to upgrade RX1 to be even in the same league as what other arenas enjoy is about the same as what the city is looking at for the arena DISTRICT investment downtown.

    So, mild upgrades that’ll have little or no impact on the team’s ability to increase revenues or a major reno at RX1
    that’ll cost the same as an entirely new district downtown. Hmmm…what to do. What to do.

    Me? I’ll choose a major addition to a huge section of downtown, ancillary development, new and bigger rink, bars, restaurants, office space, kick-starting The Quarters redevelopment, and on and on. Oh and for about the same investment as we’d spend (and yes, we’d end up spending it) putting lipstick on a pig in the north end.

    • Andy Grabia November 19, 2010 at 12:34 am #

      So, mild upgrades that’ll have little or no impact on the team’s ability to increase revenues or a major reno at RX1…

      Sigh. You’re “neatly ignoring” the fact that it isn’t the taxpayers job to provide a private businessman a handout. The point of this post is that there isn’t anything operationally wrong with Rexall Place. The fact that the owner of the Oilers isn’t making enough money off of his hockey team isn’t my problem. It’s called a budget. He should look into it. If he wants to keep all the revenue from an arena, he should build one himself. And if that’s an economically poor decision for him, so be it. It just reinforces the fact that it’s a poor investment for the city.

      Me? I’ll choose a major addition to a huge section of downtown, ancillary development, new and bigger rink, bars, restaurants, office space, kick-starting The Quarters redevelopment, and on and on.

      Oh, are we going to Candy Mountain? Can I have my own mansion, complete with a swimming pool and a pet Kraken?

      • David S November 19, 2010 at 9:55 am #

        Candy mountain! Ah yes, a memorable BoA moment. Man I wish that site was more active.

        Look. I get where you’re coming from Andy. The simple fact is that while the current arena is “operationally feasible”, we both know sooner or later that the only option for saving RX1 will be a major reno, formally estimated to be ≈ $250M. All said and done, that same investment (if you can call it that) would be enough to in effect kick start the revitalization of a huge part of what is now a black hole downtown.

        The other reality is that Katz does NOT want to work/partner with Northlands, something I can completely agree with from previous experience.

        I love idealism. But sometimes you have to find a solution to fit how things are rather than how you want them to be (although yes, I suppose this could equally apply to Katz and his crew). At the end of the day, if we assume big money will be spent – and we’re going to spend it, then the question becomes one of where it will do the most good.

  4. Garth November 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    Have you come across anything that discusses the ice plant? Anecdotally it sounds as though the ice is not nearly as good as it once was and is now middle of the road. The culprit is apparently the ice plant, and it sounds as though it’s something that can’t be replaced. Any idea?

    • Andy Grabia November 18, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

      Matheson talks about it here, though I think it’s more than just the ice plant. And I think it can be replaced. It would be news to me if it couldn’t be. I’m going to try and track down the full assessment report and see if there’s anything in there about it.

      • Andy Grabia November 20, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

        I talked to someone in the relative know about this, Garth. Assuming that the ice plant is really big problem, it can be replaced. They use ammonia now in making the ice, so you’d have to do things differently than before, but it can be done. And my friend guessed it would cost around $1 million bucks to replace, with the caveat that that was just a guess. Either way, much cheaper than a new arena. That’s the best info I have on it now. If there’s someone out there who knows more about it, I’d be happy to hear from them.

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