Friday, April 03, 2009

Lansdowne Dead?

Metro's Ben Rycroft, my colleague at It’s Called Football, is reporting on a leaked document regarding the Lansdowne Live development proposal. The report suggests that the site is in far worse shape than originally thought and that “large scale renovations of the stadium's north end stands are going to be needed just to bring it up acceptable standards.”

Rycroft has taken this information as a hit to Ottawa’s MLS bid. With all due respect to Ben, I don’t follow. See, Lansdowne is the proposed site of the CFL team. Eugene Melnyk wants the thing built out in Kanata beside the hockey rink. If anything this is good news for the MLS bid because it could make the stadium renovation at Lansdowne cost prohibitive. Many in the Glebe aren’t thrilled by the idea of a stadium there anyway. They would be perfectly happy with alternative development plans that don’t include large amounts of sports fans interfering in their idyllic urban lives.

If you talk to anyone in Ottawa they will tell you that it's not a matter of if the city will build a new stadium, only where. Any problems with the Lansdowne site make the probability of building elsewhere more likely. Since the Kanata site is the only one that promises to have a tenant attached to it, this seems to be good news for Ottawa’s soccer hopes (and not so good for its CFL fans).

Related:
Lansdowne will cost extra $20 million over 10 years (Patrick Dare, Ottawa Citizen)

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Knew there were probems with the North side two years ago. City engineers would not let a GG football game happen at the same time a 67's hockey game was going on. There was fear then that the structure could not take the load of fans inside and out. Some, at the time, said that it was a lack of dressing rooms that prohibited both events for going on at the same time . That was a red herring.
Ottawa is in a bind . It will cost to repair the stadium and it will cost millions to tear it down. The Civic Center will go with the demolition too leaving Ottawa to find a new home for the 67's.
If FC torn down there will be those who want a new stadium at city owned Bayview Yards . It was recently identified by a consultants report as the best location in Ottawa for a stadium.
The question then becomes whether Team Hunt would agree to operate a CFL team there. I don't think Team Melnyk would agree to any where else but Kanata.

OttawaFan

GoGades said...

79% of Ottawa does NOT want another stadium in Kanata. People *still* bitch about SBP, 15 years after it's been built. City Council will never approve it - doing so would be political suicide, it's that simple. Not getting the franchise from MLS was the last nail in the coffin. This 2013 expansion talk is laughable - why would the city spend close to $100M in the *hopes* they *may* get a franchise ? C'mon now.

But it is bad news for CFL supporters, no doubt. It gives Clive & and the well-to-do Glebites who want to cleanse their blessed neighbourhood from the great unwashed perfect ammo to shoot with. "Too expensive, blah blah blah" - of course, we have no idea how much THEIR plan would cost, since they don't have one other than pie-in-the-sky ideas.

But sadly, the more this goes the more it looks like it will be 'no stadium for no one'.

Duane Rollins said...

GoGades,

I know you think I'm anti-CFL -- which is laughable on many levels, but whatever -- and that makes you question what I have to say about MLS. But Ottawa has a better than average chance to land a team in '13 if a stadium is built. I understand that it's a risk to build it without a guarantee (although we don't know what Don Garber has said away from the public eye in that regards).

As with many, I wish that there was away to see the two groups work together.

But as a final note -- your sensationalistic comments about how Ottawa doesn't need soccer out of fear of rampaging fans. They are so far removed from reality that they barely deserve a response. I, unlike 99% of those compelled to comment on the situation, was actually right smack dab in the middle of the "trouble."

I've seen worse in minor hockey rinks.

GoGades said...

Duane,

If I think you're anti-CFL, it's because of your own 'sensationalistic' attack on Jeff Hunt a while back... He was simply stating the reality for his hockey club, but you chose to interpret that as a threat. It followed the pattern of other MLS supporters who have not been at all shy to state mis-truths about the CFL without backing them with any kind of factual information. I'm quite fed up with it.

re: your wish they would work together. You can blame Melnyk for that. From the get-go, he's made this an 'us vs them' situation, and not unexpectedly it's become pretty acrimonious. We've been working at this for quite some time (well before Hunt & Co came up with the LL proposal, as a matter of fact), and are more than a little sore that the johnny-come-lately MLS has thrown a monkey's wrench in our plans. Frankly, my feeling is that the MLS is simply using Ottawa to create competition for more worthy cities, but I have no facts to back that up. It sure seems that way, tho.

Lastly, re: soccer violence. While you're probably right that the Columbus incident was overblown, it is undeniable that there is a significant tradition of mob violence in soccer, going back decades and we're not talking trivial "peeing in public" stuff here. It's no surprise that some of that is making its way across the pond, imported by those looking to re-create the atmosphere of the old country.

Am I playing 'dirty' pointing it out ? I sure am.

Dennis Prouse said...

First off, GoGades is right. The Kanata stadium proposal is deader than a doornail. Without a franchise in hand, there is no way Council is going to spend $100 million of taxpayer money on a private stadium on the far western fringe of the city with no guaranteed tenant.

It is also hard not to come to the conclusion that MLS is simply using Ottawa to keep the impression of growth and vitality going for the league, and thus work up some interest in his preferred cities. Garber is like the guy who hustles the girls with the same line -- eventually, people start to compare notes. Do you REALLY believe that little Ottawa is MLS's idea of a dream expansion city? Hardly. From a North American perspective, this city is small, very white, and isolated. If they are going to another Canadian city, they'll want Montreal, which is much larger, more cosmopolitan, and better recognized in the States. Whispering sweet nothings in our ear, though, keeps interest up, and helps him with St. Louis and Miami.

Finally, Duane, you are anti-CFL. You know it, I know it, and everyone who reads the blog knows it. You have hitched your wagon to the MLS, and as such have taken every opportunity to dump on Lansdowne and Jeff Hunt. You will accept CFL if it comes along later, but for as long as you perceive CFL to be an immediate threat to the MLS dream, you will go after it. We all have our biases -- mine and GoGades 's is towards football and Lansdowne, and yours is towards soccer and Eugene. Let's not pretend that those biases don't exist, though, because they are clear as day.

Anonymous said...

If Lansdowne and the Civic Centre have to be demolished, the 67's will have to find somewhere else to play for a couple of seasons. Kind of takes the wind out of Jeff Hunt's threats to move the team if the Kanata stadium was approved. Now he will probably have ot play out of SBP even if LL was approved.

Dennis Prouse said...

Anon - let's see the engineering reports first. Already, we are finding that the headline writers, shockingly, may have gilded the lily somewhat, and that the actual contents of the report may not be all that dire. All we have been told is that the renovation costs may be $100 - $110 million, as opposed to the $80 million first thought. 25% - 30% is significant, but hardly a doubling or tripling.

Secondly, we are being told that annual maintenance costs for the facilities will need to be doubled. Again, not a huge shock when you consider that for the last 20 years, the city has put the least amount of money possible into these two facilities. Now, they are going to have to pay the price for that. It's no different than other pieces of urban infrastructure that have been allowed to deteriorate over the years.

The reason why this makes Lansdowne more likely is the realization that the stadium and arena are an integral part of Ottawa's infrastructure. Put aside the CFL for a moment -- the facilities at present get over 1.5 million visits a year. The exhibition space at the Civic Centre is invaluable in a city that is desperately short of it. We also need a stadium so that the city can host major events like the FIFA U-20, Rolling Stones, world class soccer exhibitions, etc. Those need to happen downtown, not 25k away beside an auto mall.

With Lansdowne in such urgent need of attention, and a group of blue chip local businessmen prepared to invest over $100 million of private money into a revitalization, the project becomes a no-brainer. This doesn't mean that Melnyk can't proceed with his stadium -- in fact, I would be very happy to see him proceed with a stadium and/or other projects in and around SBP. What it means is that any public money should go to the downtown location, the one that will revitalize badly needed urban infrastructure and city owned lands in dire need of attention, rather than private interests on the far western fringe of the city.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard anyone say this about MLS soccer coming to Ottawa. So I will say it. It isn't coming. And the main reason? Our $#@&*$#%
weather.

In case you haven't heard, the MLS season goes from mid March to late November. There happens to be a lot of snow on the ground for part of that time or heavy rain in spring and fall. Who is going to sit outside in that weather to watch some guys you have never heard of run around in the cold in their shorts. MLS will choose sunnier clims BUT, as someone said, use Ottawa as a pawn to entice others into the game.

Sad, as I like soccer, but I am not going to pay lots of dough to shiver in the stands. Baseball couldn't get any fans in April even when the Lynx were good. Soccer won't either.

Dennis Prouse said...

MLS's attendance woes here would be similar to those of early season baseball. Trying to entice a large number of fans to watch soccer on a four degree night in April? Not happening, especially when you consider that many hard core soccer fans consider MLS second rate. (The CFL's ratings on TSN are four times that of CBC's ratings for MLS broadcasts.)

Speaking of the Lynx, when they came to Ottawa we were all told that the large number of kids playing Little League baseball was going to translate into a number of fans at pro baseball games in Ottawa. Clearly, that didn't happen. Worth considering the next time someone tells you that the large number of kids in house league soccer guarantees that MLS would be a success here.

kinger said...

MLS sucks.

That is all.

GoGades + Dennis = :-)

sager said...

Hey, we're getting somewhere. Everyone's putting their cards on the table, or at least admitting their biases.

The CFL has roots in Ottawa. Those roots need to be augmented if it's going to grow again.

At the same time, the way people have responded to the MLS threat has been discomforting. The commenters here have said their piece very well.

But man, the way some people I know have reacted, it's like having a soccer team instead of a CFL team would be a Threat To Our Way of Life. I've heard it called, "a fledgling f--king soccer league." Multiple people who know I've been to a TFC game have asked me about the ethnic composition of the crowd, whether it's a "white crowd." Awk-ward.

It is kind of Boomers vs. Gen Xers and Net Geners. Thing is, the former gets the political leaders' ear first and want the CFL. They'll probably win.

Realistically, my tack to the middle has always been, let's get a stadium that's good value to community users and taxpayers, in a good location. Get a summer team in there, CFL and/or MLS.

I am honestly 50/50 since it's not up to me to say. (I pay more attention to TFC than the Argos, but three-down Canadian football is nearer and dearer than soccer).

There's an argument that the CFL went under twice and it's just not that popular outside Quebec or east of Winnipeg anymore.

As for MLS, I would not stand in the way of it, I would support it, but this afternoon a friend noted, "It takes a a special city to carry a MLS team in Canada. I think only three can do it and you know the three: Montreal, Toronto, Van City."

Mr. Eugene's reach might just exceed Ottawa's grasp.

Of course, if I was hitching my wagon to anything, it would be the hope we would have no pro teams outside the Sennies. The ripple of evil would then cause university sports to take off as a crowd-pleaser (no, I'm not on crack). I would have made it in the shade then.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, if I was hitching my wagon to anything, it would be the hope we would have no pro teams outside the Sennies. The ripple of evil would then cause university sports to take off as a crowd-pleaser (no, I'm not on crack). I would have made it in the shade then."

Wow --pass the pipe Neate!

I would not at all mind a CFL team here in Ottawa,but your scenatio of uni sports taling off as a crowd-pleaser would be even better.
particularly if we had some nice new or enhanced facilities that actually could hold a few fans.

See,not all we Boomers are from the dark side--just the majority are!

Dennis Prouse said...

The NHL went under in Minnesota and Colorado, two of the League's strongest U.S. markets today. "But wait," you'll say, "it wasn't the fault of the fans that the North Stars left Minnesota." Exactly.

sager said...

Minnesota gets 18,000 people out for college and high school hockey. It's apples to pears, but when has Ottawa had a crowd like that for amateur football?

It wasn't the fans' fault here, but I keep coming back to what a colleague said: It shouldn't be that hard to get the CFL up and running again. I hope he's wrong.

Anonymous said...

I don't follow the statement that the Kanata stadium is the "only one that promises to have a tenant attached to it". No it doesn't. It's Lansdowne that promises that, the CFL is conditional on fixing the stadium. As to the Glebe-ites who lobby to kill the stadium...kindly remove the pickles please....there has been a stadium and events there for the better part of a century. You cannot honestly say that is an inconvenience to you, it is all you've ever known and existed before you moved in.

Anonymous said...

I have not idea why someone would post ottawa is isolated and little.Lets keep in mind its about the same size of salt lake.Why the league may want the is for a couple reasons.One to get a good bradcasting contract if they have 4 canadian teams that is more of a appeal.Aslo for the canadaian cup the more the better.