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Ottawa Senators Arena Mediation Talks Fall Short

RendezVous LeBreton, Ottawa

Ottawa Senators arena mediation talks did not salvage a LeBreton Flats development proposal, leaving questions about the team’s long-term facility plan. 

The Senators spent several years pursuing a new arena as part of a larger redevelopment initiative for downtown Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats, but its prospects seemingly faltered amidst a series of legal battles that began in late 2018. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk filed a $700 million lawsuit against RendezVous LeBreton Group business partner John Ruddy, alleging 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). Ruddy then countersued Melnyk and CSMI for more than $1 billion, with one of his contentions being that Melnyk and CSMI were kept in the loop on the condominium development plans.

An attempt to mediate the dispute between the two sides was announced in December, with hopes that the process led by former Ontario chief justice Warren Winkler could lead to some type of resolution by a January 19 deadline that was later extended to February 28. However, the National Capital Commission (NCC)–the crown corporation that controls the LeBreton Flats land–announced on Wednesday that the mediation failed to produce a settlement. While the NCC is set to proceed on a new path, Melnyk indicated that the Senators will explore alternate solutions to the organization’s arena situation. More from the Ottawa Sun:

The NCC board is to meet March 7 “to finalize the elements of a new process,” suggesting it has plan B at the ready.

It makes for a bitter end, setting aside a plan that would have transformed 55 acres into a new neighbourhood with 4,000 new homes, a new arena, a host of amenities — all served by two brand-new LRT stops soon ready for opening.

As he has for weeks, Melnyk blamed the failure on what he considers the competing interests of his partners, mainly Ruddy’s pursuit of a highrise tower across the street, at 900 Albert St., that he believes undermines LeBreton’s economic viability.

“We are devastated that the dream has been shattered,” Melnyk said in a written statement. He said Capital Sports Management Inc. has invested thousands of hours of planning time to make the bid succeed. He suggested the company was still looking at other central locations for the new arena.

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, it had become increasingly doubtful because of the legal disputes, and now it seems that an alternate plan will have to surface if a new arena is to be pursued.

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