Ottawa Senators Write Another Deal in Downtown Arena

The National Capital Commission (NCC) has again signed an agreement with the Ottawa Senators that would bring a new NHL arena to LeBreton Flats near downtown Ottawa, years after the collapse of another Sens-supported arena plan.

The signed memorandum of understanding with senator-led Capital Sports Development Inc. lays the groundwork for a mixed-use arena and development on Albert Street between Preston Street and City Center Avenue.

The group was chosen because its bid “ticked all the boxes,” NCC chief executive Tobi Nussbaum told reporters after Thursday’s announcement. (Losing bidders and their ideas have not been made public and will not be made public, Nussbaum said, citing a confidentiality agreement.)

The selection committee was also impressed with the new partners the senators brought to the table for this latest bid, all of whom have solid experience in the industry, Nussbaum added.

The plans are still in their infancy, but the NCC said it has a goal of reaching a long-term lease on seven acres in LeBreton by fall 2023 with “clear goals regarding sustainability, affordable housing and benefits for the Algonquin Nation,” according to an NCC press release released Thursday.

The city of Ottawa will also have to approve the plans. The NCC did not provide a completion timeline on Thursday, but officials called it both realistic and “aggressive.”

An earlier arena plan fell apart in 2018.

For this latter plan, the senators are joined by:

  • Sterling Project Development, a property management and advisory group that recently completed the New York Islanders’ new home.
  • Populous, which designed the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, the Vidéotron Center in Québec City, the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.
  • Tipping Point Sports, a sports financing and consulting firm focusing on public-private partnerships for mixed-use sports anchored developments.
  • Live Nation, an entertainment company that produces concerts and festivals.

Anthony LeBlanc, the Senators’ president of operations, said in a statement that they look forward to working with the NCC as the project takes shape.

“We believe this development will have a major impact on both the Nation Capital Region and our franchise, one that will help shape the city’s future,” said Leblanc.

An arena bearing the Ottawa Senators name and logo next to a waterway and surrounded by high-rise buildings.
The NCC did not provide a timeline for the mixed-use development on Thursday. (Capital Sports Development Inc.)

How did we get here?

In April, amid rampant speculation an arena could be on the way, the NCC said only that “multiple seats” for “major attractions” had been submitted following its request for proposals in 2021.

“We have a strong interest in getting this right… I think the NCC’s expectations are high for these sites, so we want to make sure we take the time to get it right,” Nussbaum said. to reporters of the time.

Residents were not given a chance to weigh in ahead of the NCC’s selection of a preferred proponent, but Nussbaum noted in April that residents had already discussed what they wanted to see in LeBreton during public consultations for the LeBreton Flats Master Concept Plan in 2019, and that an arena was at the top of the list.

Nussbaum said Thursday that the NCC had strongly indicated it was “very open” to an arena at the site, which will create a hub important to the success of the entire LeBreton Flats redevelopment plan.

Asked about the collapse of the previous plan, Nussbaum said the NCC kept in mind the lessons it had in mind this time around, and that it is “much, much more confident that these bite-sized chunks [of land to develop] are more manageable.”