We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #4: Plans for a new Ottawa Senators arena stall.
After years of work on the effort, plans for a new Ottawa Senators arena as part of a larger LeBreton Flats redevelopment initiative seemingly lost all momentum in the final weeks of 2018. In that period, a legal battle between Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and business partner John Ruddy took shape, while the National Capital Commission–the crown corporation that controls the LeBreton Flats land–moved to terminate its term sheet with the group.
Over the last few years, Melnyk and his RendezVous LeBreton Group pitched a new Senators arena in downtown Ottawa as part of a larger LeBreton Flats redevelopment plan. John Ruddy has served as a business partner in that effort, but he is one of the defendants in a $700 million lawsuit filed in late November by Melnyk. In that legal complaint, it was alleged 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).
Already creating serious doubts about the viability of the arena plans, the legal battle was furthered in December, when Ruddy and his Trinity Development countersued Melnyk and CSMI for more than $1 billion. One of the contentions in that legal complaint is that Melnyk and CSMI were kept in the loop on the condominium development plans.
Shortly after the countersuit was filed, the NCC announced that it was moving to end its agreement with the RendezVous LeBreton Group, with the termination set to get into effect next month. Whether hopes for a new Senators arena in downtown Ottawa are revived in some form remains to be seen, but the club’s ambitions for the facility hit a roadblock late in 2018.
A new arena has been floated as a way to possibly reverse the fortunes of a Senators franchise that has struggled in terms of revenue and attendance at the Canadian Tire Centre in suburban Kanata. A new downtown arena has been envisioned as a way to give the NHL team a more modern home than the 22-year-old venue, while providing a more favorable location that could help eliminate the aforementioned attendance and revenue woes. However, the year is ending with more questions than answers on the long-term prospects of a new Senators arena.
Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date: