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The Oilers Unveil The Ice District. Sorry, Ice District.

The area around the Oilers new arena has a name. And it's not great.


Given the lack of actual NHL news that exists right now, if you’re an Oilers fan you already know that the when the new arena opens that it’ll be centrepiece of what is now being called the Ice District. Sorry, just Ice District, for some odd reason there is no "the," don’t ask me why. And since you already knew this, I wasn’t going to bother to write about it. To date I’ve written plenty about the arena, most of it with a somewhat negative slant, and this is really just a marketing exercise so it’s easy enough to ignore, but I couldn’t do it. In the end the name is just so annoyingly bad that I had to take the opportunity to get a couple things off my chest.

First, the name. The Ice District. Really?!? Here's a good rule of thumb for naming things in Edmonton: If you come up with anything that references winter, you should start over. Yes, Edmonton is a winter city, and we should embrace that, but I don't think the best way to embrace that is to start referring to sections of the city with winter related names. This is a questionable name at best and it's completely absurd at it's worst. I simply can't wait to enjoy a beer on a patio in the Ice District on a 30° August day. Nothing about that seems insane to me.

In fairness to the people that came up with the name it must have taken at least a minute to settle on this gem. I imagine that the conversation went something like this:

"Hmmmm … We need to make sure that the name references the arena so that people don’t forget it’s there. What do they have in an arena?"

"Maybe something with seats."

"No that won’t work."

"How about boards?

"I’m not feeling it."


"Brilliant. Let’s go with it."

I couldn't begin to count the number of times that I've heard that this project is about more than just the Oilers, it's about Edmonton and a stronger, more vibrant downtown. This is right out of the pro-arena handbook, every team looking for public money for an stadium makes sure to hammer this message home. And so obviously the best way to demonstrate that the project as a whole is about more than just the Oilers is with a name that makes you think first about the arena and the tenant that'll play there 50 or so (hopefully more) times per year. Yeah, that makes total sense to me.

And then there is the is the missing "the." Sorry, you can brand this however you want, you can clearly lay out the rules, but nobody is going to follow this nonsense because it's awkward. Try to say it in a sentence and not sound like a idiot, it's impossible. In the end it'll be the people of Edmonton that will give the arena and the surrounding area a name, not a marketing agency (another reason I wasn't going to bother writing this post); my current favourite proposal is Ass District. This entire exercise is like trying to give yourself a nickname, no matter how hard you try it's never going to work.

But hey, cool video.