The National Capital Commission announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ottawa Senators to develop an arena and events venue on LeBreton Flats. The land is just west of Ottawa’s downtown core.
BREAKING | New milestone for the #BuildingLeBreton project.
We’ve signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Capital Sports Development Inc (CDSI), a group led by @Senators for the development of a major event centre at LeBreton Flats. | #OttNews #Ottawa pic.twitter.com/XMBXE7mGoi
— National Capital Commission (@NCC_CCN) June 23, 2022
The Senators win LeBreton Flats Bid
The arena is proposed to be on Albert street, between Preston Street and City Centre Avenue. The LeBreton Flats are Downtown Ottawa adjacent so it will make it easier for Sens fans to watch the team live. This location is close to two train stations and two bridges leading to Gatineau. Currently, the Senators play in the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ontario, about a half-an-hour drive from downtown Ottawa.
The Senators and the National Capital Commission will work towards signing a long-term lease by the fall of 2023. The Senators’ partners in this proposal include Sterling Project Development, who completed the UBS Arena where the New York Islanders play. Another partner is Populous, who designed the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Videotron Centre in Quebec City, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.
This is the second time the Senators will attempt to build an arena on LeBreton Flats. The team had a window to negotiate a deal in 2018, but negotiations failed. Late Senators owner Eugene Melynk and his partner John Ruddy filed lawsuits against each other after the deal fell apart.
What This Means for the Senators
Building an arena on LeBreton Flats is a wonderful opportunity for the Senators to move to a more desirable location in the city. It is close to downtown restaurants and offices, making this new location more accessible for fans to watch games. Properly developing this project also gives the fans a sense of physical and financial security for the team in Ottawa. The trust between the organization and fans eroded during Heritage Classic in the fall of 2017 when Melnyk threatened to move the team if lowering attendance became a “disaster.”
The more accessible location and positive optics of this move have the potential to bring higher attendance. During the last non-Covid regular season in 2019-20, the Senators were last in the league with 12,618 average attendance. However, in 2015-16 the Senators had an average attendance of 18,805. This could also boost attendance at games at the Canadian Tire Centre next season. Fans might be more willing to invest in the team knowing that the team is investing in the city.
Another benefit is player recruitment. Some teams never see downtown Ottawa and the landmarks like Parliament Hill, the Chateau Laurier and the Rideau Canal. Many teams land at the airport, stay at a hotel in Kanata and fly out. Players having the opportunity to see the downtown core could help them better envision living there during free agency.