The Ottawa Senators took a big step forward Thursday in their quest for a downtown arena. The National Capital Commission (NCC) signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of a major event center at LeBreton Flats, an area that the Senators have been pursuing for years. The proposal includes an NHL arena along with mixed-use development, and it indicates that the NCC and Capital Sports Development Inc. (CSDI), a group let by the Senators, will work to sign a long-term lease by the fall of 2023.
Anthony LeBlanc, president of business operations for the Senators, released the following statement, along with an artist rendering of the proposed building:
“Today’s announcement marks a significant move towards our long-term vision, a downtown arena at LeBreton Flats. We believe that this development will have a major impact on both the Nation Capital Region and our franchise, one that will help to shape the future of the city. We thank the NCC for their collaboration and look forward to working alongside them as we take the next steps on this exciting journey.”
To be clear, this does not guarantee a new arena for the Senators. It does, however, build some momentum toward one, something that has been a struggle for the team over the past decade as they languished on the outskirts of the city limit. The Canadian Tire Centre, where the Senators currently play, is located in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa that is not easily accessible for many potential customers.
CSDI is a partnership between the Senators and several experienced development companies, including Sterling Project Development, which was part of UBS Arena, and Populus, which had a hand in Climate Pledge Arena and T-Mobile Arena. Tipping Point Sports and Live Nation are the other partners.
Of note, the Senators were previously awarded the same preferred bidder status for LeBreton Flats, but the deal was never completed. Ottawa fans might not want to hold their breathes this time around either, though this is definitely a major positive step for the club toward a downtown future.