The National Capital Commission will terminate its agreement with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melynk‘s RendezVous LeBreton Group, leaving questions about the team’s future arena plans.
Over the last few years, Melnyk and his RendezVous LeBreton Group have been pitching a new Senators arena in downtown Ottawa as part of a larger LeBreton Flats redevelopment plan. The status of that project had become increasingly doubtful because of legal issues, as Melnyk filed a $700 million lawsuit last month that named business partner John Ruddy as one of its defendants. In that legal complaint, it was claimed that Ruddy had a conflict of interest because he was planning to build a condominium tower on a nearby property through a separate development effort, and had kept those plans hidden from Melnyk and his Capital Sports Management Inc. (CSMI). The dispute took another turn Tuesday, when Ruddy and his Trinity Development countersued Melnyk and CSMI for more than $1 billion, with one of the contentions being that Melnyk and CSMI were kept in the loop on the condominium development plans.
The NCC, a crown corporation that controls the land targeted for redevelopment, announced Wednesday that it will sever ties with the RendezVous LeBreton Group, with the termination set to go into effect next month. With this decision, not only will the NCC have to decide its next steps for the LeBreton Flats land, but the Senators are left without the potential for an immediate path to a new downtown Ottawa arena. More from the Ottawa Sun:
“The NCC board of directors has resolved to terminate the preferred proponent term sheet, which was signed January 19, 2018, between RendezVous LeBreton Group and the NCC,” the federal agency said in a written statement. “Termination is effective 30 days following the issuance of the notice to this effect.”
And with that, the prospect of an imminent move by the Senators to a downtown arena — something once touted as essential to the club’s fate — has seemingly vanished, and the future of a long-languishing swath of prime real-estate in the nation’s capital is once again up in the air.
The Senators issued a statement Wednesday expressing “regret” at the NCC’s decision.
“For over a year, we have tried to resolve our concerns about the flaws in the economic model for the redevelopment, both within the context of our private negotiations with the NCC and then publicly since Nov. 22, 2018,” the team said.
The arena project has been viewed as a potential boost to the Senators, who have struggled with revenue and attendance issues at Canadian Tire Centre, their current home in suburban Kanata. However, the legal battle involving Melnyk and Ruddy had triggered doubts about whether theproposed new arena would move forward, and the decision by the NCC leaves plenty of questions about how the organization will make long-term facility plans.
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