Edmonton’s Iron Foot Place (AKA “Ice District”)

Okay, peeps, chill!

That Katz guy just renamed a couple of buildings in Downtown Edmonton (as he has every right to do), he didn’t rename Downtown. This is like when Edmonton Centre (a stupid name) and Eaton’s Centre (a stupid name after Eaton’s went belly up) got a snappy new pedway connecting them and some suit said “let’s call the two buildings Edmonton City Centre!”  Nobody calls it that.  Some call it “City Centre Mall” and some call it just “City Centre”.  Or like when the Coliseum got renamed “Skyreach Place” or “Rexall Place” or . . . .  No one is at all confused if you say “meet me at the Coliseum.”  And after 37 years of name changes to the arena, that LRT station that serves the place is still called “Coliseum”.

Out of convenience we’ve been calling a vague area around the under-construction arena “the arena district” for a little while. I expect when it’s all done and the “Ice District” signs go up, we’ll all call it whatever seems convenient. I imagine people will say,

“Let’s go Downtown to the arena.”
“Where should we meet?”
“At the Cineplex” or “In the Winter Garden by the Janvier mosaic” or at the front door of Stantec” or “with all the other White people in that video”.

Some time ago the City put up “Arts District” signs around Churchill Square. Has anyone EVER said “let’s meet in the Arts District Friday night!” Of course not! It’s a silly, artificial thing and it’s properly ignored.  People meet in Churchill Square or at City Hall, or the Library or at City Centre Mall.

I really don’t find this little corporate naming-rights moment of any great concern. The fact that the promo video is all “White People only unless you’re the DJ”, however, is troublesome. It would be nice if our collective ‪#‎yegSpleen‬ were being vented over that bit of corporate propaganda rather than over the naming-yawn that is “Ice District.”

Personally, I’m gonna call that bit of Downtown Edmonton with that hockey rink beside the new Alex Janvier mosaic “Iron Foot Place”, “Tsątsąke k’e” because it was Treaty Six land before the NHL and before Katz and it still is Treaty Six Land and “Iron Foot Place” is a damn better name than “The Arena District” or the articleless “Ice District.

I hope Mayor Iveson and Edmonton City Council can come up with a way to make the official City neighbourhood placename of that bit of Downtown “Iron Foot Place”, whatever the corporate brand on the buildings.  It would be an easy gesture toward Reconciliation and a good description of a place devoted to strapping steel blades to our feet.  But even if it’s never the official name . . .

Let’s meet at Iron Foot Place.

Who’s with me on this?

10 comments on “Edmonton’s Iron Foot Place (AKA “Ice District”)

  1. I so agree. I lament that we have so quickly traded our civic heritage for cash. Place names used to have meaning and a hint about where you were and what the people there were like. Now the name just tells you who the highest bidder was. So tragic.

    • I don’t expect “Ice District” will be embraced in everyday usage. Something will replace it, just as “Butterdome” has replaced “Universiade Pavilion”. I expect Rogers Place will more usually be called “The Downtown Arena.” I’m not terribly agitated against “Ice District”. I’m just disappointed that a truly tremendous, evocative name that would have made the Treaty Six connection explicit was staring them in the face and wasn’t chosen. It’s Iron Foot Place for me.

  2. sydney says:

    Brilliant. I’m completely with you on this – as I am on the horrid promo video. Egad, I guess we’re only proud of our multiculturalism when it’s convenient!

  3. […] Richardson thinks a better name would be Iron Foot Place, after Alex Janvier’s mosaic and in honour of the Treaty 6 land where the district […]

  4. […] I go downtown in Edmonton (almost every day) and look at the “Ice District” — the big arena and the community rink and the winter garden which will house Alex […]

  5. […] to see Alex Janvier again and to tell him of my excitement when I heard of his commission for the Iron Foot Place mosaic in Edmonton’s new arena.  Mr. Janvier was resplendent in a personalized Edmonton […]

  6. […] Oilers will get to make a new start in the fall at the new Rogers Place, or, as I prefer to call it, Iron Foot Place.  Bright and hopeful civic joys are these, but the most stunning wealth Edmonton enjoys this […]

  7. […] the Edmonton Journal’s letters page, on Twitter and Facebook, on local blogs, in general conversation, I keep seeing the same […]

  8. […] the Edmonton Journal’s letters page, on Twitter and Facebook, on local blogs, in general conversation, I keep seeing the same […]

  9. Jamie Johnson says:

    I am not that excited about the term “ice district” but I am a fan of the new hockey arena. I am an avid hockey fan but also a fan of business entrepreneurs like Daryl Katz. His family pharmacy empire grew tenfold under his direction and management. He paid $200 million for the Edmonton Oilers . in 2008 and he is currently working to refocus his efforts to build Canada’s largest mixed use-sports and entertainment district. He is by far one of the most successful businessmen in North America. I am looking forward to seeing how he helps to take this team to the next level and what is next venture will be. He is really focusing on helping Edmonton become a fantastic tourist destination. I have been to a few games at Rogers Place and it is really nice.

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