LeBreton Flats still ideal site for Senators arena, NCC says

As negotiations with the Ottawa Senators over an arena drag on, the National Capital Commission (NCC) says LeBreton Flats is still the ideal spot for the team and there are no major roadblocks to reaching a deal.”We think it’s an excellent site,” said NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum on Thursday. “I think the Senators think it’s an excellent site.”Nussbaum said the two sides are still meeting on a regular basis, and the NHL club was set to update the NCC board Thursday during a closed-door session.He said there are “no major sticking points,” but the Senators are still ironing out the financial plan to pursue what’s expected to be a massively expensive undertaking.”Obviously, a project like that is a very significant investment of private dollars,” said Nussbaum.”My sense is there is a lot of work underway on their side to determine all the major facets of that. So that, to me, is a very important element of this that is taking time.”Hoping for lease by SeptemberThe NCC and Senators-led Capital Sports Development Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2022 toward bringing an arena to the Albert Street site that’s currently just west of downtown.The commission later extended it until August after Michael Andlauer’s ownership group took the club’s reins.Nussbaum said he’s hoping to see a lease deal signed by Sept. 1 — though he was clear it’s not a do-or-die ultimatum.”There will be a point at which we’ll either have to have a lease or not,” said Nussbaum. “I can’t say with 100 per cent certainty when that is. Is it in September? I certainly hope so.”But Nussbaum said there is a backup plan for the site, located between Preston Street and City Centre Avenue, that would be focused on a mixed-use development with housing.Mark Sutcliffe, seen here in October 2022, has said a downtown arena could revitalize a part of the city that’s struggled as more workers do their jobs from home. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)Mayor eyes other federal sites for attractionsMayor Mark Sutcliffe has previously mentioned the possibility of a downtown arena as part of efforts to revitalize an area hit hard by the federal work-from-home trend.He appeared to gently refloat that idea following this week’s federal budget, when he speculated that the federal government’s rush to offload underused properties could open space for major attractions in the downtown core.”If there’s an opportunity to take a piece of land that the federal government doesn’t want anymore and have that be the site for an attraction — and an attraction can be a lot of different things, maybe that’s an arena and maybe it’s not — [then] we need to look at that,” said Sutcliffe who did not mention any specific properties while addressing reporters Wednesday.In Nussbaum’s view, the pace of development at LeBreton Flats means the distinction between the area and downtown Ottawa “is really going to disappear over the coming years.””The Senators are very clear that being in that sector, being in the downtown sector, including LeBreton Flats, offers many different opportunities from [the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata],” he said.In a statement to Radio-Canada, the hockey team said it had no updates to offer on its negotiations with the NCC.LeBreton Flats checks every major box for the Sens, Nussbaum said, including being big enough for the “arena district” the team is looking for and having “extraordinary transit access” with connections to both rail lines through Bayview Station.Plus, it has easy access to a whole other market on the other side of the river, he added.”They talk a lot about the advantages of proximity to the city of Gatineau, which opens up, I think, an enlarged market for them,” said Nussbaum. 

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