Edmonton mayor: Storm causes damage but Oilers arena structurally sound

Don Iveson updates the situation at Rogers Place following an intense thunderstorm in the area, stating that the flooding in the arena will not affect the NHL's return to play or Edmonton's status as a hub city.

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers and the city’s mayor say that despite rain and flood damage to Rogers Place, the arena will be ready for its half of the NHL playoffs in two weeks.

"They have completed a preliminary assessment of the building and the damage is cosmetic and is to the roof’s surface, as opposed to any structural damage," Mayor Don Iveson told a news conference Friday.

"It doesn’t look good but … the building is sound and it will be possible to recover from this quickly."

Rogers Place will be the venue for Western Conference teams starting Aug. 1, as the NHL returns from a hiatus due to COVID-19 to complete the 2019-2020 season.

An intense hail and thunderstorm around the supper hour Thursday sent water cascading into the foyer and other parts of the four-year-old downtown arena.

Crews continued to mop up and repair the facility Friday as the Oilers skated in preparation for their five-game qualifying series with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Oilers Entertainment Group said Friday it had completed a more-thorough assessment of what happened.

"The damage experienced from last evening’s rainstorm was due to significant water flow, mixed with hail, which led to excess pressure on the facility’s storm drainage system causing two pipe couplings to fail," said a statement.

"There was also minor wind damage to the parapet flashing on the roof of Rogers Place.

"We do not foresee any significant delays or barriers to either the Edmonton Oilers training camp or preparations and activities related to our hosting as the NHL hub city."

Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom said he was at teammate Adam Larsson’s place Thursday night when he saw Tweets and video about the storm damage.

"We thought it was a sign. First COVID and then this. It’s crazy. We just want to finish the season. I think we have a really good chance to go all the way," said Klefbom.

"The whole team were relieved when we came to the rink today. We’re not as affected as we thought we would be, so we’re just going to stay focused and do our job."

Rogers Place was completed as a cost-shared venture by the Oilers and the City of Edmonton and is part of a $613.7-million complex the city owns. The Oilers lease and operate the arena.

Iveson said the Oilers are required under terms of the deal to return the building to serviceable fashion at the end of the lease deal.

"They’re responsible for the maintenance of the building," he said.

"They’re required to carry insurance on it, for example, against these kinds of losses and would be responsible for claiming and dealing with the costs of that.

"I’m confident the city is asking the right questions about this asset and that the tenant, that is Oilers Entertainment Group, is following their responsibilities, and that there is open and clear communication between the two."

Rogers Place is to hold up to three games a day when the qualifying round begins for eight teams, along with a round-robin tournament for the top four Western Conference finishers.

Edmonton is also to be the site of both conference finals and the Stanley Cup round.

The regular season was suspended March 12 around the 70-game mark. Players are to be isolated during the return to games, but are allowed to opt out of playing without sanction.

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