Cue the experts... CFL 6, Melnyk 1


The professors weigh in, for the most part in favour of Lansdowne as a location. Who does Melnyk have on his side... oh right, the brain-dead coach of the Ottawa Fury PDL team!

Quality of life key to stadium issue, expert says
Parking, neighbourliness, surrounding development matter

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By Maria Cook, The Ottawa Citizen
March 25, 2009 11:12 PM

[i]OTTAWA-If Ottawa wants a new sports stadium that contributes to the quality of city life, then Lansdowne Park is a better bet than Kanata, a U.S. stadium expert says.

The key issues for success will be parking, neighbourliness and surrounding new development, says Philip Bess, professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

“Traditional neighbourhood stadiums remain the best way to approach contemporary stadium design,? says Bess, author of City Baseball Magic — Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks.

Next month, Ottawa city council will make a decision on two unsolicited development proposals that include outdoor, open-air stadiums.

One involves building a soccer-centred stadium on private property beside Scotiabank Place in Kanata, along with offices, restaurants, bars, apartments and hotels.

The other involves refurbishing Frank Clair Stadium for a Canadian Football League franchise as part of a plan to build houses, shops and offices on public land at Lansdowne Park.

City staff recommendations are to be released April 6, public delegations heard on April 20, and the final council decision is expected April 22.

“You want a sense of vibrancy in the neighbourhood that the park becomes part of,? Bess said in an interview.

“It’s more complicated than putting a stadium in a green field in the suburbs, but it’s generally a much more satisfying esthetic experience and economic experience.?

Being able to walk or take public transit, eat and shop on nearby streets and integrate visits into daily life are part of what makes a neighbourhood stadium attractive, Bess says.

However, he warns that economic benefit cannot be the driving motive. “The best reason for a city to promote an urban stadium has to do with quality of life.?

He cites Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Boston’s Fenway Park as good examples. Each occupies a city block that contains houses, stores, businesses and industry. At Wrigley, people can watch games from the tops of buildings across the street.

“Both Wrigley and Fenway have had a hugely positive impact on the neighbourhood,? Bess says. “The real estate around there is extremely valuable.?

In the past 25 years stadiums tended to move to the suburbs, but the fans have returned to the city. “Fans began to realize that new stadiums in the suburbs didn’t have the same character and that began an upturn.?

Economic spinoffs tend to be local. For example, there are two dozen restaurants and several bars within a five-minute walk of Wrigley. “You don’t have to eat at the ballpark,? Bess says.

Bess once asked Wrigley’s director of operations if concession sales were hurt because of that.“He said, ‘We do OK. We understand that, for a lot of people, it’s the ambience of the neighbourhood that contributes to the experience at Wrigley.’

“They understand there’s a reciprocal relationship between the quality of the neighbourhood and the quality of the experience of their park,? Bess says. “They recognize it as an economic advantage.?

Parking is the critical issue in making it work, he says.

“If you concentrate it in one place, you make any kind of positive impact on neighbourhood impossible or unlikely.?

Bess suggests there should be a variety of parking, including a structure beside the stadium, surrounded by mixed-use buildings to mask it, but providing easy access to the stadium.

“The teams covet the revenue, but they shouldn’t take it all because it destroys the possibility for positive relationships with buildings across the street.?

Local businesses and home owners should be encouraged to charge for parking on their private property, businesses could share parking off-hours, and street restrictions could be lifted at times.

“At Wrigley, they had to negotiate this,? says Bess. “The Cubs play half their games in the daytime, the other half at night. You can park on the street during the day, but, after a certain hour you can’t, so that people who live there can park when they come home.

“It’s a compromise to not tick them off, otherwise you’ve got a political problem.?

Another part of the parking plan could be a series of small surface lots scattered throughout the neighbourhood within a 10-minute walk of the stadium.

“You want to have as much public transportation to the site as possible and encourage transit use as much as possible,? Bess says.

A mixed-use development including residential at Lansdowne is essential to its success, he says. While Lansdowne is in a neighbourhood, it occupies the site like a suburban stadium, surrounded by surface parking.

Bess is familiar with Ottawa having given a talk here last fall. The Rideau Canal is “quite an amenity,? he says.

Finally, the architecture should reflect the fact that a stadium is an important civic building.

“It should have a certain degree of decorum and built to a high quality. New stadiums today, they’re not well proportioned, not built to be durable.?

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen[/i]

No Field of Dreams

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By Robert McLeman, Citizen Special
March 25, 2009

[i]City council is now facing two unsolicited proposals to build a new stadium suitable for professional soccer and/or football.

Both proposals come from groups involved with ownership of hockey teams in the city. The group associated with the Ottawa 67s, who play out of the arena at Lansdowne Park, not surprisingly, want to see a new football stadium next door. The competing group, associated with the Senators, wants to build a stadium next to Scotiabank Place. Again, no surprise. For the taxpayers being asked to foot most of the bill, which location makes the most sense to put a new stadium?

Three key factors make a sports stadium a success: accessibility, surrounding amenities, and the nature of the sporting event that anchors the venue. The on-field or on-ice success of the team that plays inside the venue is of less importance.

Let's start with accessibility. When Montreal and Toronto replaced their aging NHL rinks in recent years, they built them downtown. The other Original Six teams -- Boston, Chicago, Detroit and New York -- all play downtown. Vancouver's arena is downtown, Edmonton and Calgary play in rinks right on the edge of the city centre.

The same story goes for baseball. Iconic Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are urban ballparks. When Yankee Stadium and Tiger Field were replaced, the ballparks stayed downtown. Minor league ballparks from Toledo to Winnipeg are all downtown.

For sports such as hockey, basketball and baseball, with long seasons and many week-night games, having the stadium or arena downtown is essential.

You want fans to be able to go straight from work to the game and get home on public transportation. Or, if they are coming from home with the kids, you want them to be able to get to the game and back quickly.

You don't want your fans sitting in traffic on the Queensway. That's a big reason why seats for midweek Sens games are hard to sell, and why the baseball stadium sits empty.

The amenities that surround a sports facility are also critical. Anyone who has been to a game in Boston or Montreal knows that much of the thrill comes from going out for dinner and drinks before or after the game, and from the boisterous atmosphere on the sidewalks near the stadium. Major League Soccer's Toronto FC franchise is wildly successful. The team plays in a new downtown stadium, and there is a long waiting list for tickets. When you go to see Toronto FC, the game itself is almost incidental to the experience. After all, a soccer match is completed in less than two hours, and the team has yet to reach the playoffs. Its success with fans is built on recreating the European soccer experience, which necessitates a downtown setting.

The FIFA Under-20 World Cup gave Ottawa sports fans a taste for big-league soccer played in a downtown stadium. If you were there, you need no further explanation. If you weren't, suffice it to say that Lansdowne Park was packed to the rafters, and restaurants and pubs within walking distance were throbbing. That atmosphere could never have been created in a Kanata parking lot.

The nature of the sporting event is a third crucial factor. The only professional sports league in North America that consistently fill stadiums outside the urban centre is the National Football League. NFL teams draw fans from large regional markets and play only eight regular season home games a year, mostly on Sunday afternoons. Fans will drive hundreds of kilometres to attend a game, and the smallest NFL stadium holds more than double the people Frank Clair stadium does. So the location of an NFL stadium is dictated by the availability of lots of cheap land and access to regional highways.

Canadian Football League games are typically scheduled on week nights. It therefore makes sense they be played in the urban centre, as they are in Hamilton, Montreal and Toronto. Montreal Alouettes games, played in McGill University's happily cramped stadium, generate an atmosphere comparable to a Toronto FC soccer match. It's no surprise that the CFL's Argos would dearly love to get out of the soulless Skydome, notwithstanding its downtown location, and into the nearby soccer stadium.

Which brings me to my point about success.

Of all the teams mentioned in this article, only four have won championships this millennium: the Detroit Red Wings, the Boston Red Sox, the Montreal Alouettes and the New York Yankees.

Fans understand championships are rare. If the stadium is easy to get to, fun to be at, and provides a half-way decent spectacle, the fans will come back, even if the home team loses.

My biggest concern about both stadium proposals before council is their need for sweet land deals and for taxpayers to underwrite most of the costs and take most of the long-term risks. In the big picture, it really doesn't much matter if Ottawa does without a CFL or MLS team. But if city councillors really think we need a new stadium, please be wary of voices saying, "If you build it, they will come," especially if they call from Kanata.

Robert McLeman is assistant professor of geography at the University of Ottawa and would love to see the CFL and MLS in Ottawa, but not at any price.

In the movie Field of Dreams, an invisible speaker tells Kevin Costner to build a baseball stadium in a corn field. The voice is right when it says, "If you build it, they will come" -- so long as you build your stadium in the urban core, and not a corn field. The City of Ottawa found this out the hard way the last two times it built a professional sports stadium. Will we strike out a third time?

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen[/i]


This isn't related to the first post in the thread, but I didn't want to create another topic.

Consider this CFL 6.5, Melynk 1

Does anyone think Ottawa city council's gonna take a chance building a THIRD stadium while it has TWO that sit empty?

Baseball strikes out again in Ottawa
Can-Am League pulls plug on Voyageurs

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By Don Campbell, with files from Patrick Dare
The Ottawa Citizen, March 31, 2009

[i]Just 18 days short of the 16th anniversary of its grand opening before a sellout crowd that braved cold and rain to witness the return of professional baseball to Ottawa, city councillors may soon be debating whether to tear down the stadium on Coventry Road.

Ottawa Stadium is without a primary tenant for the first time after the Can-Am Baseball League pulled the plug on the Ottawa franchise less than eight weeks before the start of its 2009 season, killing the Voyageurs before they had even unveiled their logo.

The move was made after the sale of the league's Atlantic City franchise fell through. Can-Am governors, facing with a decision of whether to operate franchises in both Ottawa and Atlantic City until new owners could be found, answered with a resounding, "No."

"This is strike two, and what's that phrase in baseball: Three strikes and you're out?" Mayor Larry O'Brien said. "It's disappointing. This was not something we expected to have happen. We assumed the facility would be used all summer.

"Now we have to look at what we are going to do as we move forward. We'll have to re-evaluate our plans for that stadium. It's a beautiful piece of land ... and a beautiful facility.

"But there's an on-going study about the stadium and we have to be prudent. Council will have to base its decisions on what comes out of the study, and I expect we'll be discussing it within the year."

Stittsville-Kanata Councillor Shad Qadri said the demise of baseball in Ottawa was a cautionary tale for the city as it prepared to make a decision about two new stadium proposals: one for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park and its football stadium, and the other for a soccer stadium in Kanata.

Qadri said the city needed to have a thorough look at what happened and consider what to do with the stadium, including the idea of selling the property development.

Qadri said tearing down such a stadium would be a sad end to the baseball story, but allowing the facility to go unused would only hasten its deterioration.

This day never seemed possible back on April 17, 1993, when the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx took to the field for their first home game on the way to a single-season minor-league baseball attendance record.

Nobody imagined then that, 15 seasons later, following several years of attendance woes, the International League club would move to Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The replacement for the Lynx was the independent Can-Am League's Ottawa Rapidz.

However, the Rapidz franchise was a one-year wonder. Owner Rob Hall pulled the plug last September, leaving an estimated $1.4 million owed to creditors.

At that point, Can-Am League governors voted to kick in upwards of $50,000 U.S. per club to operate a team in Ottawa.

The league felt the Ottawa market was viable and hoped that new ownership could be found if it could show that minor-league baseball could work here again.

Plans were made, including one for a wine-and-cheese night for current and prospective season-ticket buyers.

Pitcher Noel Baca, who was with the Rapidz in 2008, left New Mexico last week to start the drive back to Ottawa. On Monday, he was somewhere in western Texas when Voyageurs media-relations director François Marchand reached Baca on his cellphone and told to turn around and go home.

"It's not a great day in any sense, for the Can-Am Baseball League or Ottawa baseball," Can-Am commissioner Miles Wolff said during a news conference. "This came as a shock to us all. This was very unexpected. We thought we were building towards fielding a pretty good team.

"With great reluctance, the league voted Friday to go with six teams, and I flew here to start the procedure to close things down.

"I would love to say we're going to come back to Ottawa next season. Last season did not end up as we wanted. It hurt us so much as far as credibility goes.

"But I still remember 5,000 fans at our last game last year, with really no reason to be there. I still believe in this market. I just don't know if we can ever prove that."

Wolff said that the club, under general manager Barry Robinson, was budgeted to lose $200,000, and a business plan was under development.

He said a recent lawsuit filed by Hall against the city, Wolff, the league and other league representatives for more than $3 million, claiming those parties conspired to get Hall and his company, Momentus, involved when they knew the Ottawa market could not support a team, was not a factor in the decision to shutter the franchise.

"We knew it was going to be rough, but the community was very receptive towards us," Wolff said. "Understandably, the corporate community was skittish, given what had transpired.

"If we could just have found an owner for Atlantic City two or three months ago. ... Nobody likes a six-team league. As it was, the old owner in Atlantic City asked for another 10 days. The league just couldn't wait."

Players from the Ottawa and Atlantic City rosters will be made available to the remaining six teams in a dispersal draft. Those who are unclaimed will become free agents.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen[/i]

Something that is being proposed is that the baseball stadium be demolished, the land it's on (valued at about $20M) sold, and that amount be directed to refurbishing Frank Clair Stadium. It would reduce the cost that the city has to shell out for the building the stadium themselves.

May as well.

So, with all this talk, is anything getting built and or repaired? 2011 is two seasons away. :? :?

Ask again April 23rd. The public gets their say on April 20th, then council "should" vote on it on the 22nd.

Are they giving the public a chance to speak at the council meeting? Are you planning on attending?

April 20th is when the public can show up to support either project (or none, I suppose). The groups themselves will actually present their "real" proposals on April 6th.

The 20th is a Monday, so no go for me (and public speaking is NOT a strength of mine), but I do know one person that is going and I believe our very own Tony Gabriel here will make an appearance as well. I'm going to try to help recruit from the amateur football community and perhaps supportive media to ask them if they know people who are capable of making a presentation.

They already have eight speakers lined up as of last night, which they found to be a lot for three weeks ahead of time and before the official presentations. I suspect somoe Glebe residents couldn't wait to sign up.

No - the Baseball stadium will not be demolished. Today it was announced that the proposed Baseball team that was supposed to play this year will not happen. Some councillors are now saying that since there is a 10,000 seat stadium with no tennant then this would be a good opportunity to convert it to..............."soccer"
Maybe Melnyk could put some money into it and add a few thousand seats and make it suitable for MLS.
I don't think there is any hope of getting any baseball team into that stadium but it would be ideal for soccer.

Maybe I jumped the gun! Selling the baseball stadium for $20Million and putting the money towards Lansdowne maybe a good idea.

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Way to go, Mr Monette! :thup: He’s been the most football-friendly councillor since day one and even has CFL stuff on the walls o fhis office. I think he intends to be in Calgary for Grey Cup this year so ifyou see him, give him a pat on the back.

Wow, is baseball taking a beating or what. I grew up playing baseball in the summer, well football and hockey on the streets as well, but Expos gone and other semi-pro teams and minor leagues, not good. Too bad for the baseball folks. As much as I'm not big baseball fan and didn't really "get" the Blue Jays for no other reason than Paul Godfrey as their president for so many years, there is a big part of me that feels sad for the state of the game in Canada. Too bad but it just isn't there. I played many years of competetive baseball and it is a good game really. Of course, on a limited budget like mine, my money goes to CFL and CIS all the way in Canada but still, baseball is ok nonetheless.

I've e-mailed Football Canada to ask whether they plan on sending anyone to this thing on April 20th. I would hope they planned to.