Late last week, the Ottawa Senators cleared a hurdle in their effort to build a new arena in downtown Ottawa.
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, along with the RendezVous LeBreton group, has pitched a plan to construct a new arena as part of a redevelopment for LeBreton Flats. The Canadian National Capital Commission reviewed the plan on Thursday, and reached a consensus on allowing it to move forward.
As it stands, the review by the commission allows the plan to advance, but does not finalize it. Talks should unfold for some time, as the Senators wait to see whether their earlier goal of moving into the arena for the 2020-21 NHL season can become a reality, which some are doubting will be the case. More from the Ottawa Citizen:
Really, at this point, it’s RendezVous LeBreton or bust, because when the selection was made in April, the Senators’ bid was identified as the clear choice over one that strangely included a car museum and a rink for an NHL team the group has no ownership stake in.
Though the Senators want to hold their opening night there for the 2020-21 campaign, that was left in doubt if you listened to the discussion among the board. It sounds like there won’t be a shovel in the ground before the calendar turns to 2018 — or possibly later — and it’s going to be a huge job just remediating the site.
Thursday’s vote still marks a major victory for Melnyk and the Senators, as a plan that has gained traction over the last several months is now closer to moving beyond the concept stage.
If it does indeed move forward, the Senators’ arena at LeBreton Flats will follow some recent trends in the NHL by placing a major emphasis on surrounding development. Edmonton’s Rogers Place has already been cited as a model for Ottawa, and Little Caesars Arena’s role in creating additional economic opportunities in downtown Detroit is getting a closer look before its fall 2017 opening.