New arenas in the works for Edmonton and Detroit

Both the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings appear to be moving along with plans to build new arenas in their respective cities, even though both teams continue to hit road blocks in their efforts to modernize their outdated facilities.

Architects for the Oilers released artwork for the proposed new arena last week, which features futuristic designs with lots of waves, curves, metal and glass.

“We’re trying to convey an iconic landmark building in downtown Edmonton … that will be a catalyst for future (surrounding) development,” said Scott Ralston, an executive with 360 Architecture.

To help incorporate a community element integrated within the surrounding city, the land beside the Oilers arena would have a community hockey rink and three levels of shops and retail businesses – all connected to the main rink to create one extravagant experience for fans.

The new arena would hold 18,400 for hockey games, including close to 9,000 seats in the lower bowl. There would also be an underground parking garage that could hold just about 500 cars.

However, Ralston stressed that the design is a first draft and that a lot of creative details still need to be ironed out.

Unfortunately, the Oilers, who currently play in the 38-year-old Rexall Place, are uncertain where the finances for the arena will come from. The total costs for the arena are not expected to be available until January.

City Council voted 10-3 last fall to share the cost of the arena with Oilers owner Daryl Katz. The framework of the deal states that Katz would pony up $100 million toward the arena, $125 million would come from a ticket tax and the city would pay $125 million. Katz would also run the building, pay for upkeep and keep all profits for 11 months out of the year.

The plan is to have construction on the new arena begin next year.

Similarly, the Detroit Red Wings are looking to move out of Joe Louis Arena and into a more modern facility, but the city of Detroit says it doesn’t have the funds to help build a new building for the Red Wings. Evidently that hasn’t stopped the Red Wings from hiring an architecture firm to come up with some preliminary designs.

News hit yesterday that Ilitch Holdings secured the services of HKS, a Dallas-based architecture firm, and Chan Kriefer NBBJ, a Boston architect specializing in urban development, to design the new arena.

This may be some of the first concrete news regarding a new arena for the Wings, although rumors have been circulating for several years now that Mike Ilitch, Chairman of Ilitch Holdings and owner of the Detroit Red Wings, would like to build a new arena closer to Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, and Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.

While Ilitch Holdings declined to comment on the move, they reiterated their desire for a new arena for the Red Wings in downtown Detroit. While this move doesn’t necessarily equate to a deal for a new arena, it could be a step in the right direction to get the Wings into a new facility in the foreseeable future.

In other NHL arena news, the city of Seattle recently voted to build a new arena capable of housing an NHL franchise. The city previously provisioned that they would not build a new arena until both an NBA team and an NHL team were attached to occupy the space. However, the dynamic seems to have changed slightly as the city agreed to build the arena with only an NBA team attached.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executor Dow Constance and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen announced their plans for a $490 million facility last week with the provision that the arena could be build if the city could acquire an NBA team and sign them to a 30-year non-relocation contract agreement.

Hedge-fund manager Hansen still plans to acquire an NHL franchise as well.

Under the new agreement, the city would cover $120 million and the county would pay $80 million if both an NBA franchise and an NHL franchise are acquired. If only an NBA team is acquired, the city will still cover $120 million while the county will only cover $5 million.

When finished, the new arena will house roughly 17,500 fans for NHL games, and 18,500 for NBA games and other events.

Check out the animated video below for flyover views of the proposed new arena in Edmonton:

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