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New Ottawa Senators Arena Still Possible–Maybe

RendezVous LeBreton, Ottawa

Though the most recent effort to bring a new Ottawa Senators arena to the city’s LeBreton Flats area collapsed, there’s still a chance–albeit remote–a new facility plan could be revived.

The National Capital Commission controls the LeBreton Flats area in downtown Ottawa. 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.

With the collapse of the Senators development proposal, the National Capital Commission continues to evaluate development proposals and plans for the site. And as there’s nothing firm on the horizon, NCC officials say they’d be open to a proposal for a new arena–but they don’t expect it to come from current Senators ownership. From

For now, while forging ahead with a different, less clear vision, the NCC is keeping the door ajar for a potential hockey arena at some point down the road.

“We’re very much open to the idea of a major events centre, should there be interest in the future,” NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum said at last week’s meeting, an update on the LeBreton file. “But it’s not a decision that needs to be made in the short term. Fifty-five acres can’t be developed overnight and that allows us to have some flexibility.”

When the NCC went back to the drawing board with the LeBreton project, it also went back to the public, through online and in-person consultations. More than 2,000 people participated via digital submissions and another 400 or so attended an event last June at the Canadian War Museum on LeBreton soil.

According to the NCC’s assessment of these consultations — along with the suggestions of grand ideas and grassroots connections a majority of participants said that “a major event space, museum or public attraction (eg. arena, theatre or concert hall) would enhance LeBreton Flats.”

The National Capital Commission is expected to finish its master plan for Lebreton Flats by January 2020, with final approval seen in summer 2020. In the meantime, the Senators will spend another season at Canadian Tire Centre in suburban Kanata.

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