Saturday, August 9, 2008

More on everyone's favourite subject

Looking back at a the David Staples "Public cool to new arena" survey story in the Journal, I noticed that the once-quoted $250 million for a Rexall renovation somehow jumped up to $300 million in passing reference.

Something isn't right here. I realize that the one proposed plan for renovating Rexall involved some kind of donut concourse wrapping the existing site, which sounds extensive, but the renovation in 1994, also described as "extensive" by Peter Pocklington at the time, cost a mere $17 million. Going by the Feasibility Committee's own report, in current dollars, this new estimate costs more than building 2/3 of all other current rinks in the league, and for a renovation no less.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but surely there are cheaper options (a donut concourse isn't necessary, for starters). As mentioned previously, the only real mention of Rexall being old in Northlands financial statements has to do with physical plant equipment, which really boils down to maintenance, an ice plant, heating/cooling systems, etc. They cost money, but not hundreds of millions of dollars. Also, structurally speaking, concrete buildings have an average lifespan of 87.2 years, maybe more, but I guess it's not unusual for Edmontonians to think of a building in its thirties as being "old." You also can't read an article about a new arena without Rexall being mentioned as "one of the oldest buildings in the league," which is true, although only within a league that massively expanded into the US in the 1990s, when many of these rinks were built.

Why hasn't city-owned Northlands come with a cheaper alternative? I don't know. Maybe they weren't asked. The Oilers pack so much cultural clout in Edmonton that it's probably easier for election-sensitive Councillors and Mayors to stand down and let them have their way, just as they have in the past.But is that really worth it for a cash-strapped city to jump into $315 million debt financing so that a private business can make more money? According to the Committee's own estimates, this would be the biggest chunk of public money to go to building an arena within the entire league, well past the $62.9 million average. It's absurdly expensive, complete with increased taxation on local businesses to pay off the debt. And for what? 40 more luxury boxes?

At the very least, Rexall has to be revisited as an alternative before this Lyle Best-driven "it has to go downtown" PR steamroller goes any further. In the meantime, the sooner Council jumps on this, the better.

And uh... what else. Anybody catch some Olympic Equestrian Dressage action on the CBC? No? ...Anyone? I love a good piaffe, when done correctly.


DMFB said...

I love a good piaffe

You would. I'll take a Spanish Walk any day.

Art Vandelay said...

My favorite piaffe is edith

Doogie2K said...

The only sport I have a clue about in this Olympiad is wrestling, because I happened to do six weeks of it at the University last year.

So...go double-leg?

mike w said...

Isn't there a special kind of thigh herpes that only wrestlers get?

Chris! said...

There are few things in this world that piss me off more than a sloppily-executed piaffe.

mike w said...

Like this piece-of-shit animated gif masquerading as an illustration of a piaffe on Wikipedia?

Terrible flexion. And that hock work... it's absolute shit.

Chris! said...

Ugh. Bend on the hind legs is far too shallow. I think I just threw up a little bit. No wait, a lot.

Rock Deputy said...

I remember having to practice tempi changes on my father's Lusitano, "Phoebe".

If my canter faltered before two strides I'd have to sing "Comptine des bisous pour Maman" for the entire ride back to the main house!

MikeP said...

Without meaning to sound like I'm defending the "build a new arena" proponents (I'm not, I don't actually care much since it isn't my tax dollars at stake) - in case you hadn't noticed, Mike, the cost of building in Alberta has skyrocketed the last few years. Maybe that $250 -> $300mm jump is due to that. If any of it involves copper - say, for pipes or electrical wiring - that's shot up in the last year, never mind five. $50 million worth? Doubt it. But if you suppose that it's not really $300, but more like $287 and they're fudging because who ever builds a damn thing under budget anyway - now it's not $50 more, it's $37 more.

Anyway, that's all I've got, beyond "boy, sounds like a rough life, rock deputy." If I didn't pick enough rocks quickly enough, well, I just stayed out there til they were done, and if that meant missing supper, that's too damn bad. If I was lucky, my parents didn't "miss" the wheelbarrow and "accidentally" peg me in the back of the head. Damn effete Westerners.

Jonathan R said...

Wow, expensive for Rexall...the bird's nest olympic stadium cost 200 million and it holds 91,000. Slave labor really helps.

Oilman said...

Construction cost for the Birdsnest:

4 billion yuan (~USD $500 million), slave labour included.

Avi Schaumberg said...

Non-residential construction costs in Edmonton were going up by about 25% a year in 06/07. Assuming the original $250 M renovation estimate was accurate, I'd think it's now well north of $300 M.

Inflation has eased a bit, but it's still impressive. The StatsCan numbers for Q2 2007 to Q2 2008 show a 15.4% increase in construction costs.