Oxford Development working with Canadian city on new hockey arena

Pittsburgh Business Times

Have experience managing the development of multimillion dollar arenas, will travel.

After downtown Pittsburgh-based Oxford Development Co. worked with the City-County Sports and Exhibition Authority on the Consol Energy Center, the firm is also serving as an owner’s representative for the city of Edmonton, Alberta, as it pursues a new $600 million downtown arena development for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

Chris Cieslak, a project director with Oxford involved with the Edmonton project, said the opportunity came about when the SEA hosted a delegation of public officials from the Canadian city a few years ago. They were looking to Pittsburgh’s experience in a major development project. She and R. Scott Pollock, a vice president of development, hosted the officials.

Eventually, Oxford was hired to help Edmonton officials manage the project.

“They saw a value in having an adviser to them that would help shepherd the city staff members through the planning and development,” she said.

Cieslak has worked in this area for 18 years with projects including PNC Park. Cieslak, a civil engineer, also pursued a similar line of work as a US Army Reserve lieutenant colonel. Oxford also works on the Edmonton project with Green Tree-based Dennis L. Astorino Architecture & Interior Design, which provides technical and design review consulting.

Cieslak said the project here went much more smoothly. In Edmonton, team owner Darryl Katz and the city have faced various setbacks in their negotiations.

With a $100 million for the project from the province now on shaky ground, Edmonton awaits a vote on Wednesday on whether to go forward with the project despite there being a $55 million gap in the overall budget.

While not every project of this type comes with a half-a-billion-plus budget, she said Oxford sees plenty of opportunity in providing third-party development services on such sports-related projects, giving the college arenas and practice facilities in the works thorughout the country.

“There’s still a significant market of varying sizes and degrees,” she said.

 Reporter- Pittsburgh Business Times

Tim Schooley covers retail, real estate, small business, hospitality, arts and entertainment, government and media. Contact him at tschooley@bizjournals.com or 412-208-3826.