In year-end interview, Edmonton mayor proposes naming Coliseum after Gretzky
The former home base for the Edmonton Oilers has had a number of different names over the years, from the Coliseum, to Skyreach Centre and Rexall Place, before returning to its roots when the NHL team left – now, Mayor Don Iveson is floating the idea of honouring Wayne Gretzky.
“As a centre for hockey and sports excellence into the future, I kind of like to think of it as the Gretzky Centre,” Iveson said in a year-end interview with CTV News. “But we’ll see how it turns out.”
In the fall, councillors voted to move forward with the idea of transforming the Northlands Coliseum, located on Wayne Gretzky Drive, into a sports complex with ice sheets and fields for the public to use.
In 2017, councillors are expected to move forward with the plan. However, before a name is discussed, city officials will meet with Hockey Canada, and local soccer and lacrosse groups.
“I think that there is a really exciting opportunity to repurpose that building and some very powerful partners who could help us do it in a way that would reduce the cost to the city,” Iveson said. “But that achieves way more than demolishing the building ever could.”
The name change would follow two other local sports facilities named for hockey heroes: the Bill Hunter and Clare Drake arenas. In both of those cases, name changes were made without financial contribution from either individual.
No matter what the facility ends up being called, it’s hoped it will spark growth in the surrounding area, Iveson said.
“It could be part of what ultimately catalyzes some transit-oriented development, density and growth around that LRT infrastructure as well,” Iveson said. “We’re going to get those reports in the New Year.”
With files from Breanna Karstens-Smith