The ICE District

by Martin J. Greenberg and Lori Shaw

I. IntroductionThe ICE District | Martin J. Greenberg | Sports Law

I have referred to the resulting interconnect between sports facility development and real estate development as a sports.comm, i.e. – a sports community. Others have referred to the interconnect as sports related development. Whatever you ultimately call it, the net results are more specifically concluded in my article, “Sports.comm: It Takes a Village to Build a Sports Facility:”

Sports venues have become a catalyst for urban transformation or revitalization. A sports facility is a destination place, an entertainment district, a bundling stimulus, a real estate development, and a place where people can work, eat, watch, congregate, buy, and socialize. Sports facility development is nothing more than real estate development. If constructed thoughtfully, a sports facility could convert the image of a league or team owner from a tax vulture into a long-term leader and visionary for a community. Moreover, a newly constructed or renovated venue can bring complete renewal and revitalization to blighted areas, environmentally hazardous sites, aged communities, or near-downtown areas. Real estate development has become a central component of sports facility development, and the results thereof—urban revitalization and transformation—may be as important as the building of the sports facility itself.[1]

In other words, sports facility development is nothing more than another form of real estate development.

In the early and mid-1990’s, we witnessed the creation of Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums in Baltimore, Denver, and Cleveland. A new phenomenon occurred and that phenomenon has been referred to as concentric circles. Concentric circles are essentially happenstance, and in some instances, planned real estate development comprised of a mixed-use variety near, adjacent to, or around a baseball facility occurring either before or after the construction of the facility. Many stadiums around the country have experienced the development of a concentric circle pattern. Sports venues attract people, over seventy-three million attendees at MLB games in 2016 and almost twenty-two million at National Basketball Association (NBA) games in 2015. People enjoy, and savor, living near or around sports facilities as their permanent millennial home. This, of course, results in a generation of mixed-use residential development further creating other service and commercial opportunities. In essence then, peoples’ desire to be proximate to sports facilities for living purposes create a community-critical mass.

In the last several years, there hasn’t just simply been a concentric circle phenomenon, there has been a planned development phenomenon wherein sports venues are the anchor tenants for development districts. The planned development districts anchored by sports facilities becomes a place where people live, work, and play.

The marriages between real estate and sports facility development have other bonuses for team owners. If the real estate development is maintained within the same or related corporate vehicle that owns the team, the team value will ultimately increase, especially where the team owner is the main developer or a joint venture and the money generated from the development will belong to the entity and not shared.

What was once not the best location will probably turn into the very best location as a result of the redevelopment phenomenon.

The acquisition of surrounding land encompassing the sports district and the ownership and direction of that land decreases competition for the team owner and for the real estate development itself. Owning the critical mass of land dictates its future.

Development Rights in conjunction with obtaining some form of public investment for the facility and surrounding district have become the new components of the “Stadium Game.” The creation of a stadium today has now become an integral part of a sports and entertainment district.

Blighted areas, environmentally impacted areas, underutilized areas, and areas with dilapidated buildings will profit most from the creation of sports districts. District redevelopment that occurs where a sports facility is the catalyst for physical redevelopment of a portion of a city is another means of analyzing the justification for the public investment in sports facilities, along with direct and indirect economic benefits. District redevelopment can occur in a city core area or outside the core area. Sports facilities draw visitors to a sports district that help to create the critical mass necessary to support other commercial activities. [2]

The creation of sports and entertainment districts surrounding a partially-public financed sports facility may make the public investment easier to swallow by measuring economic gain through a Special Activity Generator analysis as well as opening the development toolbox to assist in the development process.

A Special Activity Generator (SAG) analysis is another way to look at the benefits of sports facility development by measuring spillover-spending benefits from the surrounding district, new construction within the district, and the rejuvenation of a blighted area. For there to be surrounding or adjacent real estate development, the jurisdiction in which the stadium is located in, or adjoining jurisdictions, must be receptive communities. Receptive communities must open their development toolbox to stimulate development, welcome developers, provide flexibility in zoning, and be willing to create tax incremental financing districts (TIDs). [3]

Sports related development creates a community with a goal of getting more sports fans to come to the venue, spend more time and money, shop, eat, and yes, even to live permanently near the facility. This has become almost a normal component of any sports facility development. Here is a sample of some created or to be created sports.comms:

  • Related Cos.’s $6.5 billion City Place in Santa Clara connected with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers Levi Stadium[4]
  • Ryan Cos.’s $400 million Downtown East project near the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings new stadium[5]
  • The Atlanta Braves $400 million mixed-use development project next to the baseball team’s new SunTrust Park[6]
  • The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning’s $1.07 billion waterfront development plan backed by Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment. [7] As yet unnamed, the reporters and residents have been referring to the development as the “Jeff Vinik project,”[8]
  • The NBA’s Sacramento Kings are adding $250 million of development near their new downtown arena, the Golden 1 Center,[9]to be known as the Downtown Commons or DOCO.[10]
  • Hollywood Park Land Company, a Stan Kroenke company, plans to develop 298 acres in the heart of Inglewood, California, to be known as the City of Champions Development, by adding a sports and entertainment district featuring a world-class stadium and performance venue to a previously approved mixed –use development plan consisting of more than 4 million square feet of retail, office, hotel and residential space. [11]
  • The Milwaukee Bucks have created, in addition to a joint venture to create a brand new arena where they have put up approximately 50% of the investment, the arena and mixed-use development is known as the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center and has some of the same ingredients as other sports.comms.[12]
  • The Green Bay Packers are developing a mixed-use community consisting of approximately 34 acres on land to the west of Lambeau Field to be known as the Titletown District.[13]

This recent phenomenon of sports.comms, or sports and entertainment districts, should be no surprise to either leagues or owners in that many professional sports team owners come from a previous real estate acquisition and development background. What follows are a few of those owners with such background:

  1. Tom Gaglardi, Dallas Stars, Texas Stars;Stan Kroenke St Louis Rams
  2. Stan Kroenke, NFL St. Louis Rams;
  3. Ted Lerner, MLB Washington Nationals, NHL Washington Capitals, NBA Washington Wizards, WNBA Washington Mystics;
  4. Edward Roski, NBA Los Angeles Lakers, NHL Los Angeles Kings;
  5. Stephen Ross, NFL Miami Dolphins;Stephen Ross Miami Dolphins
  6. Herb Simon, NBA Indiana Pacers, WNBA Indiana Fever;
  7. The Tisch Family, NFL New York Giants;
  8. Zygi Wilf, NFL Minnesota Vikings;
  9. Lewis Wolff, MLB Oakland Athletics;
  10. Fred Wilpon, MLB New York Mets;
  11. Robert Sarver, NBA Phoenix Suns, WNBA Phoenix Mercury, La Liga Club RCD Mallorca;Robert Sarver Phoenix Suns
  12. Malcolm Glazer, NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, English Premier League Manchester United;[14]
  13. Mike Ilitich, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings[15];
  14. Philip Anschutz, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, Co-founder Major League Soccer[16]; and
  15. Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago White Socks, Chicago Bulls.[17]

II. Changing Arena Landscapes: From Northlands Coliseum to Rogers Place and ICE District

Before the City of Edmonton could welcome in the new, state-of-the-art Rogers Place Arena—and with it the ICE District—the city first had to say goodbye to their beloved arena that had for so long stood as the focal point of downtown Edmonton: Northlands Coliseum. Northlands Coliseum, known as Rexall Place after 1995 when the naming rights were purchased, was built in 1974 and for forty-two years served as the home of the Edmonton Oilers (Oilers) of the National Hockey League (NHL).[18] In 1974 it cost $17.3 million (Canadian) to build Rexall Place.[19] At the time, “the arena was considered one of the most modern indoor sporting facilities in North America. It was the first arena in Canada with a scoreboard hanging above center ice with an electronic message board.”[20] But, after forty-two years, Rexall Place became the oldest hockey arena in the NHL with major improvements needed in order to compete with newer arenas.[21] According to a report by a United States (U.S.) architectural firm, HOK Sports, the “price of upgrading cramped Rexall Place to modern standards would be $225 million to $250 million.”[22]

Rexall Place NHL Stadiums | Sports Law | Martin J. Greenberg AttorneySo on April 6, 2016, after forty-two years, Rexall Place saw its last Oilers hockey game.[23] Dubbed “the House That Wayne Gretzky Built,” Rexall Place housed 22 Championship Banners: 5 Stanley Cup Banners, 8 Smythe Division Championship Banners, 7 Campbell Conference Championship Banners, 2 NHL Presidents Trophies, and 1 NHL League Championship,[24] but now those banners have a new home – Rogers Place.

Paying homage to one of the city’s main resources and the professional hockey teams who now call Rogers Place home, Rogers Place is shaped like an oil drop.[25] The 819,000-square foot arena will serve as the new home for both the Oilers, a NHL team, as well as the Edmonton Oil Kings, a Western Hockey League team, and can seat 18,641 hockey fans during games.[26]

Rogers Place NHL Stadiums | Sports Law | Martin J. Greenberg AttorneyOriginally approved by the city council on May 15, 2013,[27] Rogers Place took just three years to construct.[28] Rogers Place officially opened in September 2016.[29]

Rogers Place cost $483.5 million (Canadian) to construct:[30]

  • $145 million from the Community Revitalization Levy;
  • $81 million from other City funding;
  • $112.8 from the Edmonton Arena Corporation (EAC) Lease Funding;
  • $19.7 million from EAC cash; and
  • $125 million from a ticket surcharge.[31]

The $483.5 million price tag includes Rogers Place and underground parking.[32] Breaking down the numbers further, the “Katz Group Real Estate (KGRE) is leading the development of ICE District in downtown Edmonton.”[33] The Katz Group owns the EAC as well as the Oilers.[34] “The EAC is the other partner in the arena project [and] contributes to the funding of the arena.”[35] EAC is set to contribute $132.5 million to the project.[36] Of that $ 132.5 million, “$112.8-million of that contribution will be paid to the City as rent over 35 years, and cover the City’s principal and interest costs. The remaining $19.7-million will be paid as cash.”[37] The “cash funding is from the EAC and ICE District Joint Venture, both of which have an ownership interest by the Katz Group.”[38]

On the other side of the contribution, “the City of Edmonton’s contribution of $226 million to the arena building includes funding through a Community Revitalization Levy [(CRL)], new parking revenues, and redirecting the current Rexall Place Subsidy.”[39] The CRL is determined by the Capital City Downtown Plan, which “sets a course for City investment in catalyst projects designated to promote downtown development. Including new pipes, parks and streets, these investments are transforming the heart of Edmonton into a vibrant, accessible and sustainable community.”[40] The CRL projects include “Rogers Place and related public infrastructure, including the land for the arena, a contribution to the Winter Garden, a MacEwan LRT station connection, and an interior pedestrian walkway” as well as “the Downtown Community Arena.”[41] The CRL runs for twenty years, and “the City estimates that the Capital City Downtown CRL will generate sufficient revenue over its 20 year life to fund approximately $500 million in new infrastructure downtown.”[42]

Pursuant to Section 61(2) of the Downtown Arena Ticket Surcharge Bylaw, the City has the authority to levy “a [ticket] surcharge on all Tickets for Events and NHL Events held at the Arena” at a “rate of which shall be determined by the City Manager.”[43] All revenues collected by the “ticket surcharge goes to the City and must be sufficient to cover the principal and interest payments for repayment of $125-million over a 35 year term, plus a $1.5-milion annual contribution to the City to create a fund for ongoing major capital expenditures.”[44] If the ticket surcharge generates excess funds, then those excess funds will be “used by EAC to operate and maintain Rogers Place.”[45]

The City of Edmonton executed an on-budget Guaranteed Maximum Price contract with the contractor, PCL Construction,[46] for the construction of Rogers Place whereby “the contractor is responsible for cost overruns” and the “contractor is paid a fixed fee subject to a ceiling price.”[47]

After purchasing the land for Rogers Place for $26.5-million,[48] “[t]he City of Edmonton owns Rogers Place and the land that it sits on.”[49] However, the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) (a sub-company of the Katz Group) controls the operation and maintenance of Rogers Place.[50] The City of Edmonton and EAC (again which is “owned by Daryl Katz, who also owns the Edmonton Oilers”) executed a series of agreements “to design, build, and operate Rogers Place.”[51] The agreements entered into by the City of Edmonton and EAC outline four key objectives:

  1. Protection of the City’s interests[;]
  2. Does not increase current municipal property taxes[;]
  3. Sustains the NHL in Edmonton[; and]
  4. Provides public infrastructure as a catalyst for downtown revitalization[.][52]

One such agreement entered into by EAC and the City of Edmonton specifies that “EAC and affiliates will pay the City a maximum of $250,000 in municipal property taxes annually, for EAC arena operations that are open during event hours, and will be responsible for paying all required Education Property Taxes.”[53] In addition to paying all property taxes associated with Rogers Place, but excluding areas owned by third parties, “EAC will operate Rogers Place and pay all operating and maintenance expenses.”[54] On the other hand, EAC “will receive all operating revenues, including naming rights and parking revenue[s].”[55] In exchange, “the City will have access to the Arena and Winter Garden for up to 28 days a year, at EAC’s incremental cost. The City’s use will be for community purposes – not for commercial events.”[56]

The Oilers and the City of Edmonton entered into a non-relocation agreement that states that the Oilers will remain in Edmonton for thirty-five years.[57] The Rogers Place lease provides EAC with the right to negotiate up to three additional lease extensions for ten years each, “and has the first right of refusal on any subsequent lease or land/building sale.”[58] The City and Oilers “will [also] enter into a marketing/branding partnership . . . to promote the City of Edmonton with the Oilers nationally and internationally at a cost of $2-million annually for 10 years.”[59]

Rogers Place will not be just for hockey though. The City of Edmonton and the Katz Group hope that Rogers Place will be used 180 to 200 nights per year for entertainment purposes, with only eighty-five to ninety of those nights hosting hockey games.[60] On non-hockey nights, Rogers Place has a capacity as high as 20,500 for events such as concerts and other entertainment purposes while also being able to downsize to around 4,500-6,000 for a smaller concert amphitheater setting.[61]

In addition to Rogers Place being used for other entertainment purposes, Rogers Place will also serve as the home to the Grand Villa Casino, “a $32-million, 60,000-square-foot facility jammed packed with 600 slot machines, 28 table games and seven restaurants.”[62]

Just outside of Rogers Place will be the Winter Garden. The Winter Garden is set to cost $56.8 million, with the City contributing $25.1 million for a pedestrian pedway over 104 Avenue into the Winter Garden.[63] The Katz Group will contribute the remaining $31.7 million, with $25 million “be[ing] paid to the City as rent over 35 years, and cover the City’s principal and interest costs[, while t]he remaining $6.7 million will be paid in cash.”[64] The Winter Garden is a “35,000-square-foot . . . public space that functions both as a grand entrance into the arena and a piece of connective infrastructure.”[65] The location of the Winter Garden, on the southern side of the arena, was selected based on “pedestrian movement analysis [that] indicat[ed] somewhere between 70- and 75-percent of patrons will arrive at the arena from the south.”[66] Like Rogers Place, because of the public funds contributed to the project, the City has the right to use the Winter Garden for community purposes.[67]

With hockey as the focal point for Edmonton’s downtown revitalization, a Downtown Community Arena will include an ice rink that is open to the public.[68] The Downtown Community Arena will cost $24.9 million to construct, with $14 million of that coming through the CRL.[69] The Federal Government also contributed “$7-million through the Federal Gas Tax.”[70] The remaining $3.5-million will be contributed by MacEwan University “for improvements needed to host their Griffins athletics programs.”[71] The City is the owner of the rink and responsible for all operating costs and maintenance, and will receive all revenues from the rink.[72]

The City also plans to build a new LRT connection to the arena, making it easier for people to access the arena, Winter Garden, and other attractions set to be built in downtown Edmonton.[73] The City will contribute $7 million for the LRT connection, which will be funded by the CRL.[74] In addition to the new LRT connection, a new pedestrian walkway will be built connecting the Winter Garden to the LRT connection for $15 million, also funded with the CRL.[75]

Altogether, Rogers Place, the Winter Garden, the pedestrian walkway, the Downtown Community Arena, the new LRT connection, and the land will cost $613.7 million.[76]

III. The Man and the Vision: Daryl Katz and ICE District

Katz made his fortune long before the idea for Rogers Place and ICE District entered his mind. Back in 1991, Katz bought the Canadian rights to the U.S. franchise, Medicine Shoppe.[77] He then bought a struggling Rexall, a drugstore chain throughout Canada, and brought Rexall into the U.S. after acquiring Snyders Drug Store and Drug Emporium.[78] Now, “Katz Group is one of Canada’s largest privately owned enterprises, with operations in the pharmacy, sports & entertainment, and real estate development sectors.”[79] In 2008, after several rejected bids, Katz bought the Oilers[80] for $200 million.[81] With his acquisition of the Oilers, Katz also acquired a significant piece of land around the stadium in the form of empty parking lots.[82] In 2014, the Katz Group launched the OEG in order to operate the sports and entertainment operations of the Katz Group, most notably the Edmonton Oilers and Rogers Place.[83] The “[OEG] deliver[s] exceptional sports, entertainment and other special event programming to fans and patrons in Canada and the United States.”[84] OEG now owns the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, and the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors, and OEG also operates Rogers Place.[85]

After acquiring ownership of the Oilers, Katz joined with the City of Edmonton with the goal of building a new, state-of-the-art arena for the Oilers and revitalizing the downtown area.[86] Katz Group then partnered with ONE Properties (“formerly WAM Development Group”[87]) in a joint venture to develop ICE District Properties, with the “aim to bring Edmontonians together and attract[] visitors to a city that’s truly world class.”[88]

While hockey and Rogers Place may be the centerpiece of ICE District, the vision did not stop there for Katz. Katz sought to revitalize the whole downtown area and transform it into ICE District, capitalizing on the real estate opportunities surrounding Rogers Place on twenty-five-acres of underdeveloped land in downtown Edmonton.[89]

ICE District is Edmonton’s potential brought to life. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop 25+ acres in the heart of a modern metropolis. The creation of one of Canada’s largest multi-use projects that combines offices, condos, a public plaza, sports, entertainment and shopping all in one location. It’s a living urban district that will draw people from all corners of the city, the country and the world.

After years of underinvestment, downtown Edmonton is undergoing a revival with ICE District at its core. Edmonton’s strong and diversified economy is well positioned to withstand low oil prices and is poised for continued growth, presenting a significant opportunity to invest in what will soon become one of North America’s most vibrant urban centres.[90]

IV. What is “ICE District?”

According to Katz, the area between 101 to 104 Street and 103 and 106 Avenue in downtown Edmonton will now be referred to as ICE District.[91] “ICE District started with Daryl Katz and a vision,”[92] and now, only a few years later, is taking shape into one of the “largest mixed-use sports and entertainment destination[s].”[93]

Located in the center of downtown Edmonton, “ICE District is much more than a state-of-the-art arena. It’s a place to gather. A place to celebrate.”[94] ICE District will include “a state-of-the-art arena, architecturally stunning office towers, Alberta’s tallest residences, luxury hotel, Public Plaza and three new building podiums filled with 300,000 sq. ft. of retail. All of this in close proximity, creating lively, flexible spaces for living, working, meeting and celebrating to the fullest.”[95] ICE District is twenty-five-acres in the heart of downtown Edmonton that will “combin[e] condos, a public plaza, sports, entertainment, 300,000 square feet of retail space and 1.3 million square feet of office space all in one location.”[96] In total, there will be “over 1,300 multi-family residential unites planned in the three preliminary towers, ICE District will be home to over 1,950 residents.”[97] Living in these residences will provide a unique living option, with “year-round cultural events, Cineplex UltraAVX and VIP Cinemas, Rogers Place and even a casino.”[98] These options “giv[e] tenants and owners direct access to the best in sports, dining, shopping and entertainment.”[99]

Two key focal points of ICE District’s ancillary sports related development will be Edmonton Tower and Stantec Tower. Edmonton Tower is a twenty-seven story tower “designed to LEED Gold Standards” and will “house[] City of Edmonton employees, Kids & Company child care and retail space – all featuring prime downtown connections.”[100] Currently, employees of the City of Edmonton are spread over nine different buildings throughout the downtown area; once Edmonton Tower officially opens, the City of Edmonton will lease sixty-five percent of the Tower.[101] Edmonton Tower will be located on 104 Avenue with “public art outside of the building and an attractive lobby [will] greet tenants alongside service retail. Within the office building, restaurants, cafes and other conveniences welcome guest into the building.”[102] Edmonton Tower’s residences will be occupied by the end of 2016.[103] Stantec Tower will stand more than sixty stories tall “and will be Western Canada’s tallest office tower with premium office space and direct access to ICE District’s top amenities.”[104] In addition to standing over sixty stories tall, “Stantec Tower will be Edmonton’s most iconic landmark.”[105] Each office building will offer four types of floorplans: executive office, open office, touchdown office, and collaborative offices.[106]

A fifty-five story, luxury J.W. Marriott Hotel will be “the first four-star hotel to be built downtown in decades – and the first to be topped with 264 ‘service flats,’ high-end condos for people who want hotel room service and other such grace notes.”[107] There will also be a forty story apartment building in ICE District.[108] “In all, there are 1,400 residential units under construction on the site right now, along with 2,500 underground parking spaces, 350 hotel rooms, and 270,000 square feet of retail space.”[109]

There will also be a public plaza in the middle of ICE District, which will provide a “public gathering space in the middle, an open-air skating ribbon around the edges, [and] the hotel as an anchor with a ring of new buildings facing the plaza, to house restaurants and shops.”[110] The Winter Garden will empty out into the public plaza area.[111]

Since the announcement of Rogers Place and ICE District, there has been a “hospitality explosion” in downtown Edmonton.[112] Storefront property lease numbers now rival those of Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto as store owners are taking advantage of the economic boom many believe will accompany the addition of Rogers Place and ICE District.[113] Other retail businesses have already taken advantage of the downtown construction, “including a Rexall Drugstore, a grocery store, fitness centre and Cineplex UltraAVX and CIP Cinemas.”[114]

ICE District is also home to Rogers Place, the Winter Garden, the Downtown Community Arena ice rink, a new LRT connection, and pedestrian parkways, as discussed above.

V. The Impact of ICE District Going Forward

Regardless of whether or not taxpayers are asked to contribute to the building of a new sports arena or stadium, or to the improvements of an existing sports arena or stadium, there are those who are skeptical of the benefits that accompany a professional sports team in a city. The announcement of Rogers Place and ICE District to replace Rexall Place was no different. There were those Edmontonians who viewed the new arena as unnecessary and a waste of funds; many others were skeptical of the idea of ICE District actually coming into fruition. In fact, many were leery when Katz and company said ICE District and Rogers Place would “be the best arena in the world . . . tak[ing the statement] with a pretty big grain of salt.”[115] One commentator noted that “[a]fter so many decades of our downtown sitting in stasis, it’s hard to absorb just how ambitious and transformative this project could be – and to grasp that it is actually happening, here, now, and not just in some sales pitch.”[116]

But, after Rogers Place began to take shape, it became clear that it was going to be the best in the NHL. The same commentator who took this statement, “with a pretty big grain of salt,” noted that even unfinished, “Rogers Place [wa]s already pulling way ahead of everything else in the league.”[117] He continued that Rogers Place took “the best parts of everyone else’s rinks . . . and copied everything [the EAC] loved [about the arena, and t]hen they expanded on it.”[118]

One common misnomer – generally accompanying public funds going into a professional sports area – “that new arenas and sports stadiums are slam-dunk wins for their billionaire owners and millionaire players, but big fat goose eggs for the local economy . . . could be dead wrong.”[119] According to a study conducted by Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), professional arenas and stadiums actually boost the surrounding real estate values.[120] Another surprising bit of information that the study revealed is that the type of sport, and the success of the team, are unrelated to the economic impact that the stadium or arena bring to an area.[121] Instead, the economic impact that a stadium or arena has on the surrounding area is more affected by other factors, such as “proximity to downtown (positive), ample parking (poorly planned or non-existent parking can have a negative impact on values) and integration with the surrounding community. Incorporating mixed and constant use – think bars, offices, shops, outdoor spaces – was also key, as was access to good transit.”[122] But, and most importantly, this economic boost occurs when tax increases on local taxpayers are not part of the deal.[123] The study notes that there are negative effects on surrounding real estate values when there is an increase in property taxes paid by local taxpayers.[124]

According to the REIN study, “[a]n arena’s positive impact on housing values can be felt most within a five kilometer radius and has the largest effect when appealing architecture, community plazas, park landscapes, retail, commercial and entertainment spaces, and the stadiums construction itself are incorporated into its design.”[125] Those within walking distance to the arena see the greatest jump in the price of their property values; while the farther away from the arena you get, the smaller the increase is, until you get to four kilometers where there is no impact.[126]

The REIN study looked at Rogers Place, specifically, and ICE District to assess whether Rogers Place and ICE District will be successful in and for Edmonton.[127] According to the study, “Edmonton’s Rogers Place . . . is a good example of a pro sports facility with spinoff benefits to the local economy.”[128] The study goes on to explain why Rogers Place and ICE District will be beneficial for the city. For example, “it is being constructed in the heart of downtown Edmonton, has well laid-out urban design plans, and excellent links to public transportation . . . [and] by creating an entertainment district around the arena, hundreds of local amenities will be available for neighboring residents.”[129] REIN also points out the “staggering” number of projects going into ICE District: Rogers Place, community area, public ice rink, Edmonton Tower, Grand Villa Edmonton Casino, Oilers Entertainment Group’s new headquarters, LRT connection, and increased residential units, to name a few.[130]

Another study conducted by University of Alberta economist Brad Humphreys (Humphreys) found that Rogers Place “could add tens of millions to downtown property values.”[131] Humphreys, who for years was skeptical of the economic benefits that accompany a new sports arena or stadium, “found that pro sports facilities can result in important benefits to the local economy.”[132] The key, Humphreys and his co-researcher note, is the new arena plus ancillary sports related development integrated into the community.[133] In fact, “a new state-of-the-art facility integrated in a comprehensive urban redevelopment program and located in the heart of a large city might be expected to generate increases in residential property values near hundreds of millions of dollars within a mile of that facility, if the location, planning, construction, and development is carried out carefully.”[134] But, the economic impact is not the result of the increased spending in new businesses or increased wages due to the creation of new jobs (the tangibles); instead, “the economic benefit . . . arises out of the arena’s intangibles.”[135] By intangibles, the study means “the pride and good feeling associated with the district, which makes it desirable for people to live in or close to [the arena].”[136] In fact, Humphreys’ study, and many before him, show that new arenas and stadiums have little to no positive impact on the tangible elements – local incomes, new jobs, and increased and new spending –and in some instances actually have a slightly negative impact on them.[137]

The REIN study concluded by looking ahead to future development opportunities surrounding new arenas and stadiums and took particular note of a similar project that is taking shape in Calgary; “As long as Calgary follows Edmonton’s lead, it should be a successful project for property owners around the project.”[138]

ICE District and Rogers Place also had an impact beyond downtown real estate development. In 2013, when the Edmonton City Council announced that a new arena would be built, the value of the Oilers rose dramatically. Originally valued at $225 million (the year prior to the announcement of a new arena), the Oilers’ value rose to $400 million the following year and rose to its height of $475 million in 2014 (two years after a new arena was announced).[139] The 2016 Forbes valuation lists the Oilers as fourteenth, valued at $445 million.[140] The impact of ICE District and Rogers Place on the Oilers’ valuation is striking when compared to the Oilers’ value when Katz purchased the franchise in 2008, when the team was valued at $166 million.[141]

Lori Shaw is a 2016 graduate of Marquette University Law School where she focused on Intellectual Property and Sports Law and received the Marquette Sports Law Certificate. After graduation, Shaw became a member of the State Bars of Wisconsin (May 2016) and Colorado (May 2017). While at Marquette, Shaw was the Managing Editor for the Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review, member of the Marquette Sports Law Review, and members of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society and Labor and Employment Law Society. Prior to law school, Shaw attended Indiana University where she focused on History and Political Science.


[1] Martin J. Greenberg & Dennis Hughes, Jr., Sports.Comm: It Takes a Village to Build A Sports Facility, 22 Marq. Sports L. Rev. 91 (2011), available at

[2] Martin J. Greenberg, Ten Years Later: Miller Park and Real Estate Development in the Village of West Milwaukee and the Menomonee Valley, A Report for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District (June 2012)

[3] Id.

[4] Mike Ozanian, Why Sports Owners Are Teaming With Investors Like Bill Gates on Mega Real Estate Projects, Forbes (Feb. 7, 2015),

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Justine Grifin, The Plan by Jeff Vinik and His Partners to Reshape Tampa Still Lacks One Key Thing: A Name, Tampa Bay Times (July 22, 2016),

[9] Ozanian, supra note 4.

[10] Hello DOCO, Downtown Commons, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017); Ryan Lillis, Sacramento Kings Plan Spring Groundbreaking for Hotel, Apartments, Shops Near Arena, Sacramento Bee (Nov. 7, 2014),

[11] Hollywood Park Land Company, Hollywood Park Land Company Announces Plan to Build World-Class Sports Complex in Inglewood, PR Newswire (Jan. 05, 2015),; The Revitalization Project, Hollywood Park Life, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017).

[12] Wisconsin Entertainment & Sports Center, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017).

[13] Titletown District,, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017).

[14] NREI Staff, 12 Real Estate Tycoons Who Own Pro Teams, Nat’l Real Estate Investor (Jan. 11, 2016),

[15] Curbed, Ilitich Has Turned Swaths of Downtown into a Wasteland, Curbed (Apr. 15, 2013),

[16] Kurt Badenhausen, The World’s Richest Sports Team Owners 2017, Forbes (Mar. 20, 2017),

[17] Jerry Reinsdorf, Wikipedia, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017).

[18] Marty Klinkenberg, Saying Goodbye to the House that Gretzky Built, The Globe & Mail (Mar. 25, 2016),

[19] Derek Van Diest, End of Rexall Place Era at Hand, NHL (Apr. 3, 2016),

[20] Id.

[21] Klinkenberg, supra note 18.

[22] From the Archives: In February 2007, Study to Look at New Arena Versus Renovated Rexall, Edmonton J. (Sept. 8, 2016),

[23] Klinkenberg, supra note 18.

[24] Oilers Championship Banners to Get New Life, NHL (Nov. 14, 2005),; Edmonton Oilers, Wikipedia, (last visited Dec. 3, 2016).

[25] Max Snyder, Winter is Coming, SEAT (Winter 2016),

[26] Id.

[27] Timeline, Rogers Place,

[28] Mack Lamoureux, Edmonton’s New ‘World-Class’ Arena Rogers Place Opens its Doors, CBC News (Sept. 8, 2016),

[29] Rogers Place, Wikipedia,

[30] The Agreement, City of Edmonton (2017),

[31] Id.

[32] Id.

[33] Katz Group, Katz Group, (last visited Jun. 14, 2017).

[34] The Team, City of Edmonton (2017),

[35] Id.

[36] The Agreement, supra note 30.

[37] Id.

[38] Id.

[39] Id.

[40] Downtown CRL, City of Edmonton (2017),

[41] Id.

[42] Id.

[43] Downtown Arena Ticket Surcharge Bylaw, The City of Edmonton Bylaw 16481 Downtown Arena Ticket Surcharge Bylaw (2013), available at

[44] The Agreement, supra note 30.

[45] Id.

[46] PCL Construction, Wikipedia, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017).

[47] The Agreement, supra note 30.

[48] Id.

[49] Id.

[50] Rogers Place, City of Edmonton (2017),

[51] The Agreement, supra note 30.

[52] Id.

[53] Id.

[54] Id.

[55] Id.

[56] Id.

[57] Id.

[58] Id.

[59] Id.

[60] Snyder, supra note 25.

[61] Id.

[62] Lamoureux, supra note 28.

[63] The Agreement, supra note 30.

[64] Id.

[65] Snyder, supra note 25.

[66] Id.

[67] Id.

[68] The Agreement, supra note 30.

[69] Id.

[70] Id.

[71] Id.

[72] Id.

[73] Id.

[74] Id.

[75] Id.

[76] Id.

[77] Daryl Katz, Forbes (Mar. 24, 2017),

[78] Id.

[79] Katz Group, supra note 33.

[80] From the Archives: In June 2008, Daryl Katz Buys the Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton J. (Sept 8, 2016),

[81] Daryl Katz, Wikipedia, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017).

[82] David Staples, The Rogers Place Story: The Dream, the Debate and the Deals that Built the Arena, Edmonton J. (Sept. 11, 2016),

[83] Oilers Entertainment Group, Wikipedia, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017).

[84] Katz Group, supra note 33.

[85] Id.

[86] About, ICE District Properties, (last visited Mar. 24, 2017); Staples, supra note 82.

[87] Edmonton Tower Opens Its Doors, First Opening of ICE District Towers, ONE (Feb. 22, 2017),

[88] About, supra note 86; Edmonton Tower Opens Its Doors, supra note 87.

[89] About, supra note 86; Phil Heidenreich, Ice District Tower Takes Shape, Occupancy Questions Remain, Global News (May 26, 2016),

[90] About, supra note 86.

[91] Stewart Shaw & Julia Parrish, Katz Group Officially Announces New Name for Downtown District, CTV Edmonton News (July 13, 2015),; Rogers Place, supra note 29.

[92] About, supra note 86.

[93] Ice District, ICE District Properties (2017),

[94] What’s Here, ICE District Properties (2017),

[95] Ice District, supra note 93.

[96] What’s Here, supra note 94.

[97] Living, ICE District Properties (2017),

[98] Id.

[99] Id.

[100] Ice District, supra note 93.

[101] Ice District Reaches New Heights, Rogers Place (May 25, 2016),

[102] Edmonton Tower, ICE District Properties (2017), http:/

[103] Paula Simons, Paula Simons: An Arena, A Building Boom, A Downtown Transformation. Love It or Hate It, This Is Really Happening, Edmonton J. (Sept. 2, 2016),

[104] Ice District, supra note 93.

[105] Stantec Tower, ICE District Properties (2017),

[106] Interior Design & Office Space, ICE District Properties (2017),

[107] Simons, surpa note 103.

[108] Id.

[109] Id.

[110] Graham Hicks, Hicks on Biz: The Downtown Hospitality Explosion, Edmonton Sun (Oct. 11, 2013),

[111] Id.

[112] Rogers Place, supra note 29.

[113] Hicks, supra note 110.

[114] Retail, ICE District Properties (2017),

[115] Robert Tychkowski, Edmonton Oilers’ New Arena Living UP to the Hype, Edmonton J. (May 29, 2016),

[116] Simons, surpa note 103.

[117] Tychkowski, supra note 115.

[118] Id.

[119] We Shoot, We Score! New Arenas Boost Real Estate Values, Real Estate Investment Network (Oct. 28, 2015),

[120] The Construction of New Arenas has A Positive Impact on Real Estate Values, Real Estate Investment Network (Oct. 13, 2015),; We Shoot, We Score!, supra note 119.

[121] We Shoot, We Score!, supra note 119.

[122] Id.; The Construction of New Arenas has A Positive Impact on Real Estate Values, supra note 120.

[123] The Construction of New Arenas has A Positive Impact on Real Estate Values, supra note 120; We Shoot, We Score!, supra note 119.

[124] We Shoot, We Score!, supra note 119; Tychkowski, supra note 115.

[125] We Shoot, We Score!, supra note 119; The Construction of New Arenas has A Positive Impact on Real Estate Values, supra note 120.

[126] We Shoot, We Score!, supra note 119; The Construction of New Arenas has A Positive Impact on Real Estate Values, supra note 120.

[127] The Construction of New Arenas has A Positive Impact on Real Estate Values, supra note 120.

[128] We Shoot, We Score!, supra note 119.

[129] Id.

[130] Id.

[131] David Staples, Arena Expected to Pump up Property Values, Edmonton J. (Nov. 22, 2009),

[132] Id.

[133] Id.

[134] Id.

[135] Id.

[136] Id.

[137] Id.

[138] We Shoot, We Score!, supra note 119.

[139] David Staples, David Staples: Value of Oilers Franchise Has Shot Up Because of Downtown Arena, Edmonton J. (Nov. 24, 2015),

[140] Edmonton Oilers, Forbes (Nov. 2016),

[141] Staples, supra note 139.