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New Ottawa arena site may be in play after Senators sale

We may see a new Ottawa arena site proposed for the NHL’s Senators, with the preferred downtown LeBreton Flats site potentially at risk with new team owners and a new mayor in office.

The appeal of LeBreton Flats as a new Ottawa arena site has been its downtown location: downtown sites have been trendy in terms of new arena sites, due to the potential of associated development as part of the construction process. (See: Edmonton for an example of a new arena fueling downtown development.) The site was backed by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as a preferred location.

However, it sound like LeBreton Flats’ status as a preferred new Ottawa arena site may be slipping. During a recent visit, Bettman hedged a little when it came to a discussion of a new arena, warning that plans may change after developers warned it would be hard to monetize a relatively small parcel with associated development. In addition, new Mayor Mark Sutcliffe mentioned several other potential sites for a new arena, including Bayview Yards (near LeBreton Flats), RCGT Park and the Hurdman transit hub south of the stadium.

In the end, the new owners will be guiding the new-arena development, and the sale of the Senators has attracted plenty of attention from potential investors, including actor and entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds. This reality was acknowledged by Bettman during his annual visit to Ottawa:

“There’s going to be a new owner and that new owner is going to figure out what makes the most sense,” Bettman said….

That 2.5 hectare parcel of land set aside for a major events centre at LeBreton “struck me as being a little small,” Bettman told reporters.

“You need parking. You want to make sure you can build the arena big enough to have all the loading docks and TV hookups that make a building really accessible.”

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