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Ottawa faces a second facilities issue at TD Place Arena

We’ve been following the arena-development issues faced by the Ottawa Senators (NHL) for the past few years, but there’s another venues issue facing Ottawa: the aging TD Place Arena at Lansdowne Park.

Opening on December 29, 1967, the arena is home to the Ottawa 67s (OHL) and hosts a variety of concerts and other events. With a capacity of 9,500 and managed by Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group (OSEG)–which also owns the 67s and the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, which play at the attached TD Place Stadium–the arena hosts a variety of events too small to be held at the larger Canadian Tire Center, home of the Senators.

The issue with the arena: despite plenty of upgrades over the years, including renovations when the Senators played there in 1992–1996 before Canadian Tire Center opened, the place is in middling shape, plagued by a leaky roof but deemed functionally obsolescent thanks to a variety of configuration issues, such as narrow concourses and in-seating walkways. The arena is part of a structure that also includes the north stands of the football stadium, which also suffers from layout issues.

So after bringing on design firm Rosetti to evaluate the condition of the facilities, the city is recommending that the structure be completely torn down and rebuilt from scratch. A new arena would be smaller than the current arena–say, 5,000 seating capacity–and could contain the sort of premium spaces and wider concourses popular in today’s sports world. The Redbacks would benefit from updated seating on the stadium’s north side. Housing could also be part of the new construction; who doesn’t want to live at an arena? From the Ottawa Citizen:

The arena roof leaks and the washroom capacity is so poor that OSEG needs to bring in dozens of portable toilets on game days. There is no press box. On top of that, there are regular mold outbreaks. The arena is home to the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67s, but the facility has been deemed inadequate to hold a Memorial Cup tournament…..

There’s a possible way to pay for a new arena and stands: selling the air rights above the new complex for homes in a high rise, which would generate more property tax money. It could also help businesses at Lansdowne if more people are living at the site, the report notes. There would likely be an affordable housing component.

Not doing anything to the north-side stands and arena would mean continuing to sink $1.4 million annually on average into the facility until 2054 just to maintain it.

The Rosetti report is just the beginning of the conversation: the next step comes from OSEG, which will commission a study of a replacement. OSEG took over management of the Landsdowne Park complex with the goal of creating a year-round destination at the site, but right now that is more an aspiration than a reality.

Image courtesy Ottawa 67s.

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