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NCC Provides Encouraging Update on New Downtown NHL Arena

Artist rendering of what a new arena in LeBreton Flats might look like. (Capital Sports Development Inc.)
It may be several more months before the NHL and the Ottawa Senators finalize the sale of the franchise. The club apparently has quite a few interested buyers. All of them have different business ideas and no two are alike. And yet, without knowing exactly who the new owner will be, the National Capital Commission made it sound today like a new downtown arena for the club is in great shape to be a smooth, collaborative process.
It’s not guesswork, of course. The NCC has recently been meeting with the various potential ownership groups to hear what they have to say. Laura Mueller, the Chief Planning and Engagement Officer for the NCC, provided a quick update on the major event centre project Thursday morning at the Commission’s Board of Directors meeting.
“At the request of Capital Sports Development Inc. (run by the Senators), the NCC has met with a number of the groups that are vying to purchase the team,” Mueller said. “This dialogue will support a smooth transition and working relationship with the new owners. The team sale process is expected to proceed over the coming couple of months, and we will continue to aim to sign a lease for the site in the fall while maintaining a collaborative approach to support the project through the team’s ownership transit.
“We continue to meet regularly with CSDI as they advance their due diligence and design process, while the sale of the Ottawa Senators hockey team is underway in parallel.”
If the NCC is still shooting to get a lease done in the fall, then talks with the various potential buyers must have been positive and productive. That has to be a refreshing change for the Commission, based on how things have gone with Sens ownership in the past.
The waters suddenly calmed in June of last year when the NCC and the Senators (CSDI) announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding toward the development of a major event centre at LeBreton Flats. CSDI would build an NHL hockey arena and events venue, surrounded by mixed-use development. It would be located on Albert Street between Preston Street and City Centre Avenue.
Katie Paris, the NCC’s Director of Major Real Estate Development, even gave us a ballpark figure (an expression that works way better with summer sports), on how long construction of a new arena might take.
“If a lease is in place at the end of this year, (factoring in) the design and all of the different elements involved,” Paris said, before pausing. “Again, I just think that it wouldn’t be right to speculate on exactly when (the new arena) is going to be delivered.
“There are arenas that are built within three years, four years, So, (that) would be an estimate.”
That’s an interesting timeline. Three to four years is also when the Senators’ young core of top players should be in their absolute prime. That should give Ryan Reynolds’ documentary producers plenty to work with.
By Steve Warne

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