Would-Be Architectural Icon $35 Million Over Budget

Arena Project in Edmonton

The development of an architectural icon does not come without challenges. The large scale of such projects leads them to be highly public in terms of both planning and delivery, with any kind of delay quickly racking up additional costs.

This has certainly been the case with Edmonton’s highly-anticipated Arena project. What was originally a $450 million ‘world-class’ redevelopment precinct project for the city has now swelled to come in at approximately $485 million.

Arena Project in Edmonton

Even with its overblown budget, city councillors have still maintained the continuation of the current plan due to the expected large impact the arena, and its surrounding urban planning plans, will have in revitalizing the area.

In fact, according to Mayor Stephen Mandel, the project is still in good shape.

“I think it just shows though that, with a reasonable balance, we can reach the number and still have a substantial contingency,” says Mandel. “So, I think it’s a pretty good news story, personally.”

Mandel admits, however, that the budget will need to be trimmed.

Arena Project in Edmonton

“Now, during the next six months, discussions will have to take place as to what you want to have in and what you don’t want to have in, what you’re going to have to give and what you’re going to have to take,” he says.

Cost-cutting suggestions include losing some administration space, nixing a team store and using cheaper materials.

However, not all involved feel so confident about future plans, with councillor Linda Sloan reaffirming that the taxpayer was promised the project would come in at $450 million and that is what they should be on the hook for. She states that the continued design efforts for the project need to cease before strategic funding is organized and a framework settled upon.

Arena Project in Edmonton

“We do not have complete funding framework for this deal and to go on designing and proposing components for the agreement I think is really premature,” she says.

There is not doubting the impact this new piece of architecture will have on this city at large, but will it be enough to risk substantially going over budget?

By Emily D’Alterio
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