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Wayne Gretzky Statue: Edmonton Debates Moving Tribute To Downtown Arena

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WAYNE GRETZKY STATUE
The statue of Wayne Gretzky that currently sits outside Edmonton's Rexall Place may be relocated if the downtown arena is built - a move that doesn't sit right with some in the city. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

The statue of Wayne Gretzky that currently sits outside Edmonton's Rexall Place may be relocated if the downtown arena is built - a move that doesn't sit right with some in the city.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has been particularly opposed to moving the statue of The Great One, which has been outside the arena since 1989.

"The statue in my humble opinion belongs to the lands on which it sits, which is Northlands (Rexall Place) and I don't think it should be moved," Mandel told the Edmonton Journal.

A small-print clause in the arena master agreement says that if Molson Breweries (who paid for the statue), signs off on the move, the city must give permission for the statue's move.

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The city has struck a deal with the Katz Group, owner of the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL, to build a new arena in the downtown area.

Mandel, however, notes the deal isn't yet written in stone, so the clause pertaining to the statue might not stay in the master agreement.

"We have to be respectful of where it is and respectful of the environment where it sits now," said Mandel.

Councillor Tony Caterina, who represents the neighbourhood around Rexall Place, told Metro Edmonton it is time to do away with the old clause and respect the history of the city.

“That clause should be burnt or eliminated somehow,” he said.

"Wayne Gretzky, as far as I know, never played in a non-existent arena."

According to Metro, the Katz group originally asked for a non-compete clause between Rexall Place and the downtown arena.

Molson Breweries is staying out of the debate, saying the statue was a gift and it's up to others to decide where it rests.

“Whatever the city agrees to, we’re totally fine with that. It’s a statue of Wayne Gretzky, he played for the Oilers, so it makes sense for the statue to be where the Oilers are,” spokesperson Julie Gathercole told the Journal.

Gretzky, himself, echoed a similar sentiment to the Journal in an interview last year.

“I’m truly honoured that the City of Edmonton chose to erect a statue in my honour, and I certainly respect their decision on whether or not to move it. I’m behind whatever decision they make 100 per cent.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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