News / Edmonton

'Pray for the coliseum': Fate of the aging facility up in the air as council remains undecided

City council now looking into whether its possible to bring in a private investor to take the building

Council still undecided on fate of Northlands coliseum.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Council still undecided on fate of Northlands coliseum.

The future of the former home of the Oilers is still undecided, but Edmonton's city council put yet another option on the table Thursday: bringing in an outside investor.

Council asked administration to prepare a report outlining the pros and cons of offering the 43-year-old building up to the private sector, who would then decide whether to redevelop or demolish it.

Mayor Don Iveson said the city had exhausted debate on the topic, while failing to find an “economically viable" solution.

“Pray for the coliseum at this point,” he said.

“I do think that if we can get an investor on that site, who is prepared to take on the challenges of the building, given the contractual limitations that are in place... then that might take the challenge out of the city’s books.”

Under an agreement with the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG), the city is not allowed to fund projects that will turn the coliseum into a facility for “sports and entertainment,” as that would compete with business at Rogers Place.

“The problem with this is that sports and entertainment, the interpretation could be virtually anything,” said Coun. Tony Caterina.

He suggested the city talk to the OEG about changing the agreement, otherwise, “we are stuck,” he said.

The coliseum was built for the Oilers back in the 1970s, who played there until moving to Rogers Place last year.

There was talk of the city working with Hockey Canada to turn it into an amateaur facility, but that plan was scuttled by the agreement with the OEG, as well as the presence of asbestos in the building. The city currently plans to shut the facility down at the end of the year.

It currently costs the city $4,100 every day to keep the coliseum.

Iveson would not discuss the price of selling the coliseum to an investor yet, but said it would depend on what the “real estate community decides the land is worth.”

The report will be presented to the executive committee in the first quarter of 2018.

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