I finally attended my first Oilers game in the new barn on Saturday. I’m a broke-ass student who can’t afford tickets, even the student discounted ones through NAIT start at 80 bucks a piece. So I was thrilled when my parents hooked me up with tickets to see the Oil take on the Blackhawks last Saturday.
I have been to Rogers Place twice since it opened, though, once to see Kanye West and another time for a WHL vs Russia Super Series. This was my first time seeing McJesus and friends in our new rink.
I even got to sit in the lower bowl for the very first time. Just some quick points and first impressions:
- The entire building feels and looks so futuristic, everything is very clean and crisp. It felt like I was inside a space and science centre or some tech giant’s headquarters. I can’t believe this building was built for hockey, it feels too fancy for that.
- The in game entertainment was okay, Ryan Jespersen is a good in-game host and the silly games and prize giveaways during the TV timeouts were pretty standard.
- The in-game intro, lighting effects, projections on the ice were excellent. I definitely don’t miss the old Oil Derrick.
- The ushers uniforms remind me of airline staff, very corporate, very stiff.
- The concourse is nice and big, it never felt crowded. When the game was finished it was a breeze to make your way outside. At Rexall you would be stuck in line trying to leave and then stuck in line waiting for the train or never ending line of cars.
- Happy to see no performances by cheerleaders, although the ladies clearing the ice seemed to have similar outfits, but the guys were wearing full tracksuits. Not fair. They should at least go shirtless or show a little midriff like their female co-workers.
- Seeing a game on TV does not do the game justice. The speed NHL players compete at is just ridiculous and Connor makes them all look lethargic.
- The atmosphere walking downtown towards the arena feels awesome. A massive improvement from parking on sketchy side street near 118th Ave (for those of you not familiar with Edmonton, Rexall Place was in a part of Edmonton mostly known for its sidewalk needles and cheque cashing places)
- The orange jerseys look even better in person.
- There are now tons of options to get downtown, and it’s such a prime centralized location. Anyone complaining about parking is usually some hick who thinks downtown Edmonton is just like Westlock and you should be able to park your rig rocket for free wherever you like. Sorry bud.
- Downtown bars and restaurants were packed with Oilers and Hawks jerseys, it just felt great. We opted for pre-game brews at the Yellowhead Brewery, just a couple blocks from the rink. Legit 20 oz pints for 4 bucks, 3 dollars with student ID.
- I wish the atmosphere in the building matched the atmosphere outside. I don’t get it, Rogers like Rexall is whisper quiet. Puck drop and then silence. The noise levels have become such an issue there’s even a group of fans trying to fix it!
- The Oilers need to do a much better job of getting people excited, putting ‘MAKE SOME NOISE’ on the jumbotron (holy hell is it gigantic) and playing some terrible electronic music isn’t enough to get people riled up.
- Seriously can we retire ‘MAKE SOME NOISE!’ league wide?
- A single man in a cat costume banging a drum is a pretty weak attempt at creating hype. Maybe a guy with a drum in every section?
- I think with the expensive tickets and beers have priced out some of the rowdier fans. The Oilers have the 4th most expensive average ticket price in the league.
- I’m hoping a playoff appearance can finally shake this city out of it’s silent slump.
- Dumb fans were more into doing the wave than cheering on the Oilers. To be fair it’s hard to feel excitement when you’re down 5-1, but even when things were closer it was too quiet.
- Add the wave to the list of things the league needs to put out to pasture.
- It was incredibly convenient to get a beer, bars and beer tubs are everywhere, it wasn’t hard to find one with a short line. The prices on the other hand are brutal, 11.50 for a draft beer, or a can of “craft” beer for 9 bucks! Rickard’s Red and Belgian Moon, both owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company, are not exactly my idea of local craft beer. Hard pass. I thought there was going to be some local stuff on tap! So many great breweries in Edmonton and across Alberta and the fine folks at Rogers Place are slinging the same garbage you get at Boston Pizza.
- Speaking of Boston Pizza, looking through the crowd at Rogers it’s a safe bet that Edmonton leads the NHL in number of fans rocking the bald spot/soul patch combo.
- Rogers Place is the only place in Canada where the line up to the men’s room is twice as long as the women’s. Seriously, 5 minutes to get a beer, 20 minutes to piss. Put some outhouses on the concourse or something! Fans won’t mind the smell. They’ve been around this team for 10 dumpster years.
- Food prices are standard for North American arenas, everything is expensive and there’s some ridiculous items. Perogy nachos, a curry bar? I’m sure they’d be fine in your lodge seating or in your executive box, but for a regular guy like me I can’t justify eating a bowl of curry when people are already packed in like sardines.