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New arena factor in Ottawa Senators sale discussions

With everyone agreeing on the need for a new arena, upcoming Ottawa Senators sale pitches from multiple potential investors who aren’t interested in arena development will complicate the NHL team sale.

Last summer saw a revived LeBreton Flats arena in the works for the Senators, as the team and the National Capital Commission unveiled a memorandum of understanding for a land lease agreement covering a new event center. Since then, Sens owner Galatioto Sports Partners put the team on the market, with multiple groups expected to submit bids in the next three weeks in the start of the Ottawa Senators sale.

Valuing the NHL team won’t be easy, as any group investing in the Sens will be taking on the investment of a new arena. And how important the arena will be in sales discussions does indeed remain to be seen, as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has acknowledged that impact:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has made it clear that a new, central arena should be part of any new ownership plan for the Senators. During his All-Star Game availability earlier this month, Bettman said that as many as 15 parties have shown interest in buying the Senators, a number that will be whittled down very soon.

“The opportunity to bring the team downtown to LeBreton Flats makes this an even more exciting opportunity to own a team in the nation’s capital,” Bettman said.

In more recent discussions, however, he seemingly backed away from that sentiment:

“There may be bids that don’t have LeBreton Flats as part of their future projection for this franchise,” Daly said, matter-of-factly. “It depends on what they have planned. It’s certainly a relevant part of the mix, but I don’t think it’s an essential element.”

Here’s the issue: despite the public backing, the development of LeBreton Flats will be a challenging one. Developers have already expressed concern about the arena deal, saying that there’s not enough land for development–thus impacting the financial impact of the arena. There may be some very desirable owners who aren’t all that thrilled with the economic prospects of developing the arena–hence Bettman’s hesitancy–and if enough developers are not interested in the LeBreton Flats development, the deal could be seriously impacted.

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