Wayne Gretzky’s name adorns awards and streets, and he has been honored with statues in both Los Angeles and Edmonton. And if Edmonton mayor Don Iveson has his way, ‘The Great One’ could see his name on the side of the building he called home during the most incredible years of his career.
That’s right: Iveson is proposing that the former Rexall Place — which has also been known as the Northlands Coliseum, Edmonton Coliseum and Skyreach Centre during its 40-plus years of operation — change its name to the “Gretzky Centre.” In a year-end interview with CTV Edmonton’s Breanna Karstens-Smith, Iveson said he envisions the building taking on the name as it makes the transition to becoming a public sports complex.
“As a centre for hockey and sports excellence into the future, I kind of like to think of it as the Gretzky Centre,” Iveson told Karstens-Smith. “But we’ll see how it turns out.”
The Coliseum is where Gretzky had each of his six highest-scoring seasons in the NHL, including his almost unbelievable 215- and 212-point seasons, the latter of which saw Gretzky net 92 goals as a 21-year-old. All told, Gretzky called the arena home for his 10 seasons with the Oilers, nine in the NHL. Over the course of those nine seasons, Gretzky scored 583 goals, 1,669 points and helped bring four Stanley Cups to Edmonton.
This season marks the first time in the Oilers’ history that they’re not playing at the Coliseum, and the plan moving forward is for the building to be modified into a complex that would include multiple ice surfaces and indoor fields that could be used for soccer, lacrosse and dry-land activities. Architectural drawings shown by CTV seem to propose a multi-level complex, too, that would feature playing surfaces on two floors.
“I think that there is a really exciting opportunity to repurpose that building and some very powerful partners who could help us do it in a way that would reduce the cost to the city,” Iveson told Karstens-Smith. “But that achieves way more than demolishing the building ever could.”
This wouldn’t be the first building to bear Gretzky’s name, however. His hometown, Brantford, Ont., has the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, which, among other things, features four NHL-sized rinks. The building is the home of the Brantford 99ers junior ‘B’ team.
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