HomeSportsConnor McDavid may not be the Oilers most valuable asset

Connor McDavid may not be the Oilers most valuable asset

The Edmonton Oilers have enjoyed an embarrassment of riches on the ice in recent years with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl ranked first and third on the NHL Network’s preseason list of the best players in the sport. The duo has Edmonton in the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons and the club is tied 1-1 in the series against the Dallas Stars.

The little Oilers are thriving off the ice too, with Rogers Place, one of the most affluent arenas in the NHL, and the surrounding 25-acre mixed-use sports and entertainment development, ICE District, the second largest in North America, just behind Hudson Shipyards in New York.

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“The ICE District is truly the epicenter of all the activity in our city,” Tim Shipton, president of the Oilers Entertainment Group, said in a telephone interview. “It’s the place where people want to be.”

OEG owns the Oilers, the ICE District, the rights to operate Rogers Place and teams in the American Hockey League and Western Junior Hockey League of Canada. The ICE District includes multiple retail levels with shops and restaurants, office space, a casino, residential apartments, a JW Marriott hotel and an outdoor plaza. OEG sold the commercial portion of the 69-storey Stantec Tower for $400 million as well as an office building to Alberta pension manager AIMCo for $300 million

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During the NHL playoffs, fans have gathered outside the arena for both home and away games, with more than 11,000 fans spread across the plaza and fan park, in addition to the 18,000-plus in Rogers Place, which was packed for road game watch parties . . OEG generates revenue from all food and beverages consumed inside and outside the arena.

“We’ve been sprawling for decades, and it’s easy not to focus on downtown development when you have all this land,” Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Downtown Business Association of Edmonton, said in an interview. “But it has really changed what our downtown looks like and how we build our city.”

OEG has invested CA$2 billion ($1.5 billion at current exchange rates) during Phase 1 of the ICE District’s construction, with Phase 2 expected to include 2,500 homes and more green space. Since the Oilers announced their plans for the arena, other entities have spent another CA$2 billion developing the area’s real estate.

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The Oilers generated the fifth-highest revenue in the NHL during the 2022-2023 season, with an estimated $281 million in net revenue sharing. Sportico‘s count. The club ranked eighth in team value at $1.6 billion, with each team leading the way in an urban area at least three times its size in population. Sporticos The valuation includes the team’s gaming operations, OEG Digital Gaming and the ICE District’s sports-related components, which represent a fraction of the development’s total value.

This version of the ICE district was not in the original proposals. Oilers owner Daryl Katz bought the team in 2008 for $170 million and began acquiring an adjacent parcel of land downtown. The new $380 million arena was approved in 2013, and the original master agreement called for Katz to invest just $75 million in developing the off-site area, which consisted mainly of gravel parking lots and an old Greyhound station. Mixed-use developments were rare just over a decade ago, with LA Live being one of the few success stories: Atlanta’s Battery was still four years away.

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Edmonton is the rare city with a lot of vacant, buildable land in the heart of downtown. It also has a very young population and has witnessed net migration from across Canada.

“All these young people were moving here looking for apartments and cafes and everything that comes with dense urban development,” McBryan said. “We didn’t really have the scale we needed, so it was just a perfect meeting between a catalyst, investment and demand.”

Shipton says OEG hosts a “steady stream” of senior executives and owners from across the major sports leagues looking to gain insight into the success of the building and surrounding development.

“Daryl Katz had a vision when he purchased the team for an arena and sports entertainment district that would stimulate downtown vibrancy and economic activity,” Shipton said. “We are now seeing that vision in practice.”

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