"Eugene Melnyk's company, Senators Sports and Entertainment, wants to build on to its existing recreation hub — Scotiabank Place and the Sensplex nearby — by seeing the city build a stadium that would house a Major League Soccer franchise, creating an 'entertainment village' that would attract something in the order of four million visits a year." — Ottawa CitizenPlease bear in mind that just because Mr. Eugene says he's going to do it doesn't mean it will happen. Never, ever underestimate the incompetence and foot-dragging of Ottawa city council.
It is understandable if people see this is a body blow to the Lansdowne Live! plan, especially since Roger Shenkman, John Ruddy, et al., could end up cutting friendly neighbourhood frontman Jeff Hunt out of the picture to get a piece of action. Don't be so hasty; Duane and others on It's Called Football (you can access it through The 24th Minute) pointed out that MLS commish Don Garber tends to praise every potential expansion city to the skies, and the local media in each city tend not to notice the "pillow whispers" (Ben Knight's term) he's giving to each of the other cities.
The ballpark village is, in good friend Pete Toms' phrase, is "all the rage" in the U.S., since it is a way to dress up the fact that sports magnates are sucking at the public teat. Pete wrote an extensive piece, "When Stadium Financing and the Recession Collide" (The Biz of Baseball, Jan. 20) that covered the subject very thoroughly.
There is a huge scramble on, especially since the federal governments in both the Canada and U.S. are ready to throw money at projects which are, wait for it, "shovel ready." Melnyk can also sell this as part of Canada's push to host the 2015 Women's World Cup, a point which seems to have sailed past a lot of people, with Duane as a notable excpetion.
Please keep in mind that a lot of these stadium village projects are having trouble taking form. That's a big unacknowledged part of this story. The Wiki for the ballpark village in St. Louis next to the current Cardinals baseball stadium refers to it as "a big embarrassing turd right in the middle of the city." (It will probably get more attention this summer when the Cardinals host the baseball all-star game.)
Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff "heard crickets" (Examiner, Feb. 14) when he pitched a ballpark village for Fremont, California. (Wolff might have switched his sights to San Jose, where he owns , wait for it, a MLS team. Another proposed for Arlington, Texas has never got off the ground.
Beyond that, anyone who wants to build one of these has to have financing. They need tenants for any retail development. They also need developers willing to build homes in the area.
The bottom line is you cannot predict where this is headed, especially considering the rot of incumbency that permeates Ottawa city council (how are you coming along with light rail, everyone?).
In the short term, it means that two of Ottawa's irreplaceable amateur sports institutions, the Hunt's 67s in the OHL and the Ottawa Gee-Gees in CIS football, are in a bit of flux. However, and this is just coming from an outsider, it seems like Ottawa has had a blind spot with this for a good 15, 20 years, and it's caught up to them. A lot of people want something new.
The irony is original Senators owner Bruce Firestone, Cyril Leeder and co. wanted to do this two decades ago out in Kanata; they had projections of "profits that would scrape the sky," and everyone doubted them. It seems like were information rich, but cash poor.
(Incidentally, Duane pointed out the B.C. Place project for footy is a "disaster," which runs counter to what the Paper of Record said last Saturday.)
Melnyk plans ‘entertainment village’; Project would include offices, restaurants, bars, apartments, hotels for area near Senators’ arena (Patrick Dare, Ottawa Citizen)