On the soaring upper terrace of Ford Hall, those people sipping pre-game bevvies look down on the tiny dots cross-ing Ford’s byzantine floor like eagles perched on the edge of the arena’s highest plateau. Beneath the lofty cantina lies cavernous beauty and potential.
Ford Hall – the name for the Rogers Place grand atrium arena entrance – is seemingly interstellar in its scope. It’s the type of space a colony of determined humans might construct on Mars. Its towering walls shelter its inhabitants from the harsh elements, stretching along engineered curves to distant ceilings bathed in soft LED light. The architecture flows with hardly a single square corner in sight. It’s the type of place where the Jetsons might go to catch a hockey game, where the action takes place a world apart from the cold clime outside.
And from the top of its entry staircase, while standing at the foot of its grandeur, its epicness, it isn’t hard to dream about what it might one day hold. New Year’s Eve festivities, perhaps, or JUNO concerts. Its massive video screens might one day broadcast the final victorious moments of an Oilers cup run to fans unable to secure a seat inside the arena.
There is no denying its magnificence. One would have to be a giant to find it unimpressive. Still, some have been irked by Ford Hall, not by the building itself, but by its name.
“Ford Hall? Meh,” declared Metro editorialist Danielle Paradis upon the Oiler Entertainment Group’s announcement regarding the naming. She claimed the name conjures no image of the building it labels. The Edmonton Journal’s Paula Simons suggested renaming the entire arena facility “Ironfoot Place” in respect for a colourful mosaic of the same name that gilds the centre of Ford Hall’s floor.
The name is a far cry from the building’s original moniker, the Wintergarden. That’s the name that symbolizes a space for community to thrive downtown no matter what the season throws at us. It would have gelled well with Edmonton’s strategy to deem itself the “Winter City,” despite the hall’s purpose of removing us from the cold.
Alas, the corporate branding of such a space was inevitable from the start and, like a baby-boomer telling his hipster son he can’t name the new baby “Infinity,” the unique Wintergarden title was shot down. It’s Ford Hall we’re stuck with. If I’m being honest, I kind of like it.
It’s blessed with an ease of pronunciation similar to a well-crafted stage name. It’s terse, so terse that if not for the giant F-350 display occupying a large portion of the floor, one might overlook the brand presence altogether.
It’s far from the greatest name in the world, but we’re stuck with it so we might as well embrace it.
– Connor O’Donovan, Sports Editor
Image from the Edmonton Journal