Eugene Melynk and the MLS for Ottawa

From my understanding, Ottawa is behind both Vancouver and Montreal for the next round of expansion. My quuestion is about the stadium issues in Ottawa and if Melynk is thinking of partnering with Jeff Hunt in some way to build a stadium that would be for both gridiron and soccer. Although I guess the stadium as it is now is still owned by the city. Anything about this anyone?

I haven't heard of any kind of partnership, but it's good news regrdless.

One of the arguments anti-stadium people made was that it wasn't worth having one that only gets used 10 times a year. Interest in a soccer club increases that amount drastically.

Mind you it wasn't true anyway. The field already got used for youth soccer and the occasional concert but the people arguing against the stadium chose to ignore that.

Thanks CRF. Melynk really likes sports I have to say. Good to have someone like that there.

I don't know if you recall, but when the Renegades were finally put on sale for good, there was a lot of speculation that Melnyk might step in. He stamped that out fairly quickly, stating that is wasn't a good time to do so.

The rumour is that Melnyk wanted control of the stadium (don't know if that means "ownership" as such) so that he could make money from things other than the Renegades if the Renegades did not do so on their own. He could instead cash in on concerts and such. And the city would have basically said "no way" to that.

About 16 months later, cracks are found in the southside lower deck and the city is arguing about how to fix it.

So if it wasn't for city council being so protective of what they always call a "jewel" but treat like a turd, it's conceivable that the Renegades would be owned by Euguene Melnyk and have never folded, even for one season.

Very interesting.

That's right CRF, Melnyk needed the stadium to make money. The city balked, ignored the stadium, let it crumble, incurred millions of dollars in operating costs, and sealed the fate of the city's football team.

Frustrating eh? But when Hunt comes in with billionaires in tow and they suggest a way to fix the place, no way! It's FAR too valuable to give away!

It's just valuable enough to run into the ground though.

I don't understand the city's thinking.

I understand the optics of 'giving' away the land. But that wasn't even the case. A 99 year LEASE of the land was proposed, with the group having ownership of a re-done stadium, not the land it was on.

It is ridiculous for the city not to make this deal based on the optics of it. They never had any intention of maintaining their 'crown jewel' but refused to allow this group to do the work it wouldn't.

So the city decided it made made sense to incur millions of dollars of operating cost, added to a multi-million dollar demolition cost vs. the groups first plan that would have generated an estimated $15 million annually for the city.

I hate city politics.

CRF, the figured I used were from memory. They look accurate to you?

Not my intention to defend the politicians, but from their perspective these situations are almost always lose-lose.

If they keep the stadium and spend money on a CFL stadium, they look stupid for subsidizing a professional team.

If they keep the stadium and don't spend money on it and it falls into disrepair, they look stupid for letting a facility crumble.

If they keep the stadium and spend money on an empty stadium, they look stupid for "wasting" taxpayers money.

If they "give the stadium away" and Melnyk makes a go of it, they look stupid for not keeping it.

If they "give the stadium away" and Melnyk fails anyway, they look stupid for taking a chance that didn't work out.

Anyway, I have heard that Melnyk is looking at a new soccer stadium out in Kanata a la BMO Field/Saputo Stadium.

Is there anyone in Ottawa that knows different?

Fair enough, Brett, though the only one I would question is this one:

"If they keep the stadium and spend money on an empty stadium, they look stupid for "wasting" taxpayers money."

It's rarely empty, though without a team there is rarely a need for 20,000 (eh...even with a team it was on/off). But with the Gee-Gees playing there, other amateur football, youth soccer, etc, there's an awful lot going on.

Sure do.

Once the developers’ plan is fully in place, the city would get about $15 million a year in property taxes instead of losing $1.5 million on operating the park, Hunt says.

CRF - actually I think the the only really valid point on the stupid list is if they keep the stadium and don't spend money on it and it falls into disrepair. They don't just look stupid, but they are stupid for letting a facility crumble.

The other points are mostly optics or how opponents will spin the situation. IMO it is ridiculous that a city the size of Ottawa might end up without an outdoor stadium. Ottawa might end up being the only city in North America with 1,000,000 people and no stadium.

And as to a stadium being used by other teams/sports... I'm all for maintaining, renovating and building new stadiums in Canada, and I use that argument myself. I think it is a reasonable use of taxpayer money. But we both know that nearly all those "uses of the stadium" could be done on a field turf playing field with a few bleachers. The CFL is the only thing that really needs the 27,000 seats year in and year out.

Hey some good points!
Here's the latest picture from the stadium:

[url=] ... to_19.html[/url]

Your right, the CFL would be the anchor tenant. But, having this stadium allows hosting things like; FIFA events (eg. like the one last year), big ticket concerts (eg. The Rolling Stones), Grey Cups, potential outdoor hockey game(s), international competitions (eg. Francophone Games), and to say nothing of university atheltics and a host of other events that would be attracted.

Not having a suitable venue is absurd for a city this size. I can't believe this is even a debate among city counsellors.

I agree to a large degree why it would even be debated. This is Ottawa, the nations capital for pete sakes. Health Canada, a major government department whose job is in part to promote a healthy active lifestyle through movement, sports, recreational activities etc. To help the health of the nation. You would think there would a stadium where they could showcase sports of all kinds in a decent sized stadium to get people excited. And I'm not talking pro here necessarily, what about that amateur under 20 soccer tournament which was well attended.

Come on Ottawa, what the heck are you doing, mixed messages with this debate. Build something for the nation and get on with it! And afterwards, it can be used by pro teams which should give something back to the city in funds gained.

That makes sense Earl.

Too much sense, which in this city is tantamount to it never happening.


Some guy posted this e-mail on a soccer forum:

[url=] ... C_ID=17463[/url]

[i]Recieved this email today

-----Original Message-----
On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:56 AM
Subject: [Executive] MLS in Ottawa - Press Conference
Importance: High

Eugene Melnyk and Senators Sports & Entertainment are launching a bid to bring a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise to Ottawa. We would like to invite you and any interested members of your soccer club to attend a media conference where Mr. Melnyk will be outlining the Ottawa MLS bid along with plans for a new stadium.

Please forward this invitation to members of your club executive as well as any interested coaches, players and parents.

When: Tuesday, September 16 at 9am

Where: Scotiabank Place - Gate 1 lobby


There is an opportunity for youth players from your club to participate in a photo opportunity as part of the media conference. If your club is interested in having youth players participate in the media conference in their team jerseys, please contact Kathy Downs by 4:00pm on Friday, September 12 at


So whadda you guys think??? Do you guys think the e-mail's even real?

I know Melnyk wants in on MLS, but I don't think he has a prayer in hell. There are currently 9 bids for the 2 spots in the next expansion, and from the sounds of it, it'll be the last expansion for a while. Among them are well established and well-banked USL teams from Vancouver and Montreal. Would the 'Mericans tolerate more than two or three Canadian teams in their league? Ottawa has no record for supporting soccer, and its population would put it among the smallest cities in the MLS.

More importantly, do we think that Melnyk's stadium is a rival for Jeff Hunt's stadium, or is there some kind of collaboration going on???

Melnyk would have a better shot at getting a stadium if he pooled his money with Hunt's developers.

I suspect you mean local teams and truthfully I have no idea how they do attendance-wise. But I also figure that selling out most (if not all) of the FIFA event last year will be seen as a very good thing.


Doesn't sound like the proposal will involve the CFL. If Melnyk was smart, he'd go the way of Montreal and build a more modest, yet expandable, stadium for a USL-1 team, and then make his case for MLS based on established fan support.

Kanata to get its kicks
In pursuit of MLS expansion team, Melnyk to unveil plans for 20,000-seat-plus soccer stadium

Sat, September 13, 2008

[url=] ... 6-sun.html[/url]

[i]Senators owner Eugene Melnyk will officially kick off his campaign to bring Major League Soccer to Ottawa next week by unveiling plans for a new 20,000-plus-seat stadium in Kanata.

While the Senators will be reporting for training camp, Melnyk has called a news conference for Tuesday at Scotiabank Place, where he'll show off his plans to bring an MLS expansion team to the city.

Included in the bid for the squad, which likely wouldn't play here before 2011, is Melnyk's plan to build a state-of-the-art soccer stadium, which sources say will be located in Kanata within close proximity of Scotiabank Place on land he already owns.


According to the demands made by the MLS in its requirements for expansion teams, all soccer facilities must have 22,000-30,000 seats.

Since Melnyk has no choice but to meet that demand, the facility will be similar to -- but bigger than -- the 20,000-seat BMO Field which houses the Toronto FC franchise, which is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

While the bid will be worth in excess of $40 million, there's a lot of work to do before a franchise is awarded to Ottawa. Since Melnyk is willing to front the cash, there isn't going to be any concerns about building the stadium.

The MLS -- a 14-team league where many of the franchises are losing money -- is looking to expand to 20 teams. Seattle has been granted a franchise for next year and Philadelphia will join the league in 2010.

Melnyk isn't the only Canadian bidder in the hunt for a club. Vancouver and Montreal -- both strong soccer venues in the past -- have already made their interest known and will get strong consideration.


All three cities will be battling the American bidders from Atlanta, Portland, Miami, Las Vegas and St. Louis. There's also talk a group led by the owners of major league baseball's Mets is trying to get a second MLS franchise in the New York/New Jersey area.

There have been suggestions the new stadium could also house the CFL expansion team that 67's owner Jeff Hunt is fronting with a group of local real estate investors -- including Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and William Shenkman.

But Hunt is getting ready to make an announcement of his own on the plans for the development of Lansdowne Park in the next couple of weeks. That bid is a little more complicated because it needs the backing of the city before becoming reality.

"I don't know anything more than anybody else," Hunt said yesterday. "I'm waiting to hear what the announcement will be. Until we can fully grasp what (Melnyk's) proposing, it's difficult to make a comment.

"Obviously, Eugene believes Ottawa is a world-class sports city. He's showing great confidence in the Ottawa sports market."

Hunt said he has not talked to Melnyk regarding the bid.

"We have not had any meaningful discussions. We're open to the MLS being here, of course. We're proposing a world-class sports and entertainment venue. The more (the facility is used) the more successful the venture will be.

"Our group is moving forward with the process to revitalize Lansdowne. Our bid will be submitted in the coming weeks. I think people will be excited." [/i]