Since the opening of Rogers Place, police calls in the area are up, but the severity of incidents is down, transit and parking problems aren’t as bad as first feared and the spin off on the economy has been measurable.
A report on the arena and the district boasts that the nine sold out Garth Brooks shows generated $42 million into the local economy. That information was provided by the Oilers Entertainment Group Thursday. There have been 70 Oilers and Oil King hockey games, 28 live event nights and 81 corporate and community events.
Other financial indicators show $1.5 million have come through the doors since opening, prompting attendance targets to be upgraded from 2 million visitors a year, to 3 million starting in 2017.
Nearby, the amount of “vacant or underdeveloped land within the downtown has been reduced from 52 percent in 2012 to 40 per cent in 2016,” the report said.
And part of what paid for the place, the downtown community revitalization levy (CRL), remains at a mid-target range. It’s projected to raise $702 million in the 20 years between 2015 and 2034, reaching a new benchmark in 2019 of $58.2 million. The CRL is educational property tax uplift diverted from the province over a two decade period, and used for utility upgrades and other amenities like parks, as well as the arena in the downtown.
“While there has been a drop in the assessment base in the downtown as a result of the soft economic environment in the province, the amount of new development in the downtown and the rate at which it is occurring continues to provide new tax growth,” the report said.
Edmonton police report more crime and calls for service in the immediate area of Rogers Place, however a growing proportion of that is from officers initiating a call, since calls from the public have dropped by 7.8 per cent.
“The most serious types of crime (assaults and other violent and property crimes) have decreased,” the report said. “The increase in calls for service had been anticipated, and was addressed with changes to resource deployment and scheduling accordingly.”
Alberta Health Services reports about a five per cent decrease in calls in the area, compared to the same six months from the previous year. That’s for both emergency and non-emergency situations.
The 24/7 Crisis Diversion Team deals with the at-risk population, working with mental health, addictions issues and other non-police-emergency problems on event nights is averaging about 334 calls a month.
More people it seems took LRT to Rexall Place than are to Rogers Place. Peace officers show a 15 per cent drop in ridership, based on counts done at the Bay/Enterprise and MacEwan LRT stations.
After all the predictions of parking chaos, the report said current spots are being used. There was a worry about the library parkade, because of other events in the arts district, but those anticipated issues haven’t happened.
“Usage has not exceeded 80 per cent of capacity at any time since the arena has opened, and rates remain unchanged at $10 for the evening,” the report said.
For those who park illegally, since the opening of Rogers Place, 7,100 parking tickets have been issued, mostly around the ePark vending machines, but also in handicapped zones, and for infractions like parking too close to an intersection.