Northlands Coliseum, the storied former home to the Edmonton Oilers, will close permanently at the end of this year when the building is turned over to the City of Edmonton, the city announced Wednesday.
Under a memorandum of agreement between the city and Northlands, the area known as Northlands Park will also revert to the city on June 30, 2018, 30 days after horse racing is no longer licensed on the site, the city said in a news release.
The moves are designed to provide “greater certainty for the future of Northlands and the communities that surround it,” the release said.
“The release of the Coliseum back to the city allows Northlands to proceed with a viable business model that honours and returns the organization to its agricultural roots.”
The city said it has also renegotiated its sponsorship agreement with the Oilers Entertainment Group. The city has been released from a $17-million sponsorship commitment and that funding may now be considered by the city for other opportunities including amateur sports.
Agreements are also in the works that would see Northlands continue to host K-Days and Farmfair International on the current site for at least the next five years, the release said.
The Jan. 1, 2018, transition date for the Coliseum mirrors the date when the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation commences operation of the Expo Centre.
The Coliseum Station Area Redevelopment Plan will establish a new vision for the site and nearby properties.
The plan will use local revitalization initiatives to improve the area for residents, businesses and visitors, the city said.
A report submitted to city council five months ago recommended the City of Edmonton consider a partnership with Hockey Canada to repurpose Northlands Coliseum as a Hockey Centre of Excellence at a cost of $102 million.
The report proposed the building be refitted with four ice sheets, a 200-metre running track, a training area, classrooms and administrative space to support sport and athlete development.
However, one month later, city staff suggested that tearing down the Coliseum and building a new facility on the site would be a more cost-effective option.
The city estimates the cost of demolishing the building at $8 million.
Rink opened in 1974
The arena on 118th Avenue opened in 1974 as the Northlands Coliseum. Over the next four decades it was known as the Edmonton Coliseum, Skyreach Centre and Rexall Place.
While playing at the arena, the Edmonton Oilers won five Stanley Cups over a decade.