Localities (09/28/09)

Edmonton "welcomes" Bush, Federal Building gets its anticipated facelift, Rexall Place is Top 10 in the world

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

-If you're at least as curious as I am to see one of the world's most notorious leaders since Hitler come to Edmonton to speak of his eight years as chief commander of the globe's most powerful country, then you just may be willing to put down the $175+ for a ticket to "A Conversation with George W. Bush." The 2-hour speaking engagement will hit the Shaw Conference Centre on Tuesday, October 20 (5-7PM), and I'm sure is expecting to evoke protestors to congregate outside the doors of the downtown venue. Seven months earlier, on March 17, four people were arrested during the former U.S. president's visit to Calgary, which also happened to be Bush's first official speech since leaving office. You may still be able to get tickets via Ticketmaster.

-Finally, after 20 years of sitting vacant on the grounds of the Alberta Legislature, the art deco Federal Building--and the area adjacent--will recieve a $356 million facelift that will surely rejuvenate the forgotten district. First designed back in 1939 (by George H. MacDonald), the Federal Building was finally completed during the '50s, but remained unused from 1989 until now. Amongst the restoration projects are a 650-stall underground parkade, an outdoors skating rink, and the Centennial Plaza that will offer retail shops and restaurants. "Restoring this historically significant building is going to add to this beautiful legislature site," remarked Alberta minister of infrastructure Jack Hayden. "It's going to help rejuvenate downtown Edmonton." Construction is set to be completed in 2011.

-According to a mid-year report from trade publication Venues Today, Edmonton's own Rexall Place ranked 10th amongst the world's top concert/event venues, in terms of ticket sales, which were at $17.3 million from October 2008 to May 2009. Those impressive numbers came from 39 different community events, shows and concerts, though did not include home-team sports games. The only other Canadian arena (with more than 15,000 seats) that made the Top 10 was Toronto's Air Canada Centre. "U.S. acts want to come to Canada, and when they come to Canada they need to come to Edmonton," said Rexall sales director Leanne Smoliask. "We have become well-known in the marketplace for doing a good job."
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