Ottawa CFL dead: Citizen


ASSUMING THAT THESE REPORTS ARE ACCURATE, it looks like back room dealing has pretty much killed the return of the CFL to Ottawa. Melnyk won't agree to this, and even if he did, the CFL wouldn't have him as an owner after what he said about the CFL in the media. Even if they did, the stadium would likely be conditional on both a CFL franchise AND an MLS franchise, and MLS is not coming to Ottawa...ever.

Lansdowne Live goes ahead, minus the CFL team. Who knows, maybe this is what the Hunt group wanted all along.

Oh well. So long, Ottawa... Go Moncton!

New plan combines soccer, football

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By Randall Denley, The Ottawa Citizen
April 15, 2009 7:04 AM

[i]A plan that could give the city a revitalized Lansdowne Park as well as two professional sports teams playing in a new stadium in Kanata is gaining ground as the solution to the Lansdowne/pro sports dilemma.

Mayor Larry O'Brien Tuesday publicly endorsed the idea of redeveloping Lansdowne Park without professional sports and he has been working hard behind the scenes to get the stadium part nailed down, too.

O'Brien has been negotiating over the last several days with the group of local developers who want football at Lansdowne, as well as Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk's group, which has proposed professional soccer in Kanata.

Those familiar with the discussions say that the Lansdowne group has shown significant flexibility, but the success of the stadium plan will come down to Melnyk's willingness to do the same.

First proposed in this column last Thursday, the plan calls for demolition of the Civic Centre and Frank Clair Stadium and their replacement with a new Junior A rink and consumer show space at Lansdowne. Combined with limited commercial development on Bank Street, that would give the city a reinvigorated Lansdowne at little or no additional cost to the taxpayer. O'Brien wants to keep costs even lower by renovating the Civic Centre rather than replacing it.

The second part of the plan calls for a $100-million stadium in Kanata for pro soccer and CFL football, paid for with federal, provincial, city and private money.

Melnyk spokesman Cyril Leeder said last week that the biggest impediment to the plan could be the idea of two pro sports teams having to share the revenues from a new stadium.

The Lansdowne group, headed by Minto's Roger Greenberg, is said to have found a solution to that problem. The group's goal is to bring the Canadian Football League to Ottawa, and it is willing to let Melnyk take over its conditional franchise if that's what is required to get the deal done.

At $7 million, the CFL franchise is cheap by sports millionaire standards.

This is a tremendous amount of flexibility from a group whose whole plan centred on rebuilding Frank Clair Stadium as the home of its CFL team and running the team as part of a new sports company that would include Lansdowne partner Jeff Hunt's Ottawa 67's.

After extensive discussions over the Easter long weekend, the Lansdowne group has reluctantly concluded that rebuilding Lansdowne without a football stadium would be acceptable, but the group is still determined to bring football back to Ottawa.

The plan that's being discussed would seem to give Melnyk everything he has asked for, and more. It would deliver a stadium in Kanata adjacent to his Scotiabank Place rink, creating a home for the soccer franchise he hopes to get. It would also act as a catalyst for the development of other land Melnyk owns around the new stadium. The only hitch is taking on the CFL franchise. Melnyk is a soccer enthusiast who has shown limited interest in football.

Leeder says that there will be further internal discussions of the new proposal and "we're putting a lot of effort into it, but we're not at the point where we're ready to talk about it." Discussions between city politicians and the Melnyk group were also scheduled for Tuesday.

The Lansdowne/pro sports matter is up against a tight deadline. Proponents are scheduled to make presentations to a city committee next Monday, then full council will decide what to do next at its meeting two days later. The pressure is on to come up with an alternative that councillors will back because support for the original Lansdowne plan and for Melnyk's soccer plan are both weak.

Melnyk has always portrayed himself as a great booster of Ottawa and pro sports here. This is his big chance to step up. If he can find a way to make both pro sports work in a single stadium, he will have played a key role in creating the very best deal for Ottawa and its sports fans.

If he won't co-operate, the city is still likely to approve the idea of a new Civic Centre and consumer show space at Lansdowne, but the opportunity for pro sports franchises will be lost.

The people behind the Lansdowne group -- Greenberg, Hunt, John Ruddy and Bill Shenkman -- have shown that they are Ottawa-first types who are prepared to dramatically alter their proposal to deliver the greatest public good.

Melnyk has said that, other than winning a Stanley Cup, there is nothing he wants more than to bring pro soccer to Ottawa.

He also portrays himself as a creative thinker and a risk-taker. If that's so, it's time to seize the moment.

Contact Randall Denley at 613-596-3756 or by e-mail,

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

Lansdowne doesn’t need a stadium, mayor says
O’Brien suggests updating Civic Centre, dealing with football/soccer issue separately

By Mohammed Adam, The Ottawa Citizen
April 15, 2009 7:04 AM

[i]OTTAWA — The city’s top priority is to make better use of Lansdowne Park, Mayor Larry O’Brien told business leaders Tuesday — even if that means giving up on an outdoor sports stadium there.

He told the Citizen in an interview later that Lansdowne can be rebuilt and greened and still preserve a junior hockey venue in the Civic Centre, without saddling taxpayers with millions of dollars in extra costs.

A proposal by a group of developers and Ottawa 67’s owner Jeff Hunt to rebuild the city-owned Lansdowne Park, with a Frank Clair Stadium renovated for CFL football at its core, has run into skepticism from some city councillors, who are concerned that fixing up the stadium would be too expensive.

“Lansdowne Park is broken. It is an eyesore in the city and it is not functional as a football stadium or any other stadium. Our No. 1 priority is clearly to find a way to fix Lansdowne Park so it is no longer an eyesore and becomes a permanent park in the city,? O’Brien told the Citizen.

“Without going as far as putting a stadium at Lansdowne Park, we could very definitely rejuvenate it. We could likely deal with the issue of CFL football or soccer separately. We could talk about where a stadium could go — there are two different visions of that.?

At a breakfast gathering with business leaders at Ottawa City Hall, O’Brien said the city could revitalize Lansdowne by converting the $4 million a year he says the city spends on maintenance into a $50-million bond that would cover rebuilding costs right away.

“The $4 million will cover a 30-year payback of a $50-million bond. This means the City of Ottawa will be in a position to put $50 million into Lansdowne almost immediately,? he said. “That $4 million we are currently spending, and have budgeted for many years into the future, could be translated into enough money to fix Lansdowne.?

The mayor said $20 million to $25 million of the new pot of money would be used to fix up the Civic Centre arena, with the same amount going to pay for a new underground parking garage. The city could then enter into an agreement with the private sector — most likely the developers’ group, headed by Hunt and Minto boss Roger Greenberg — for a “self-financing? commercial development along the Bank Street strip, and possibly on Holmwood Avenue. The rest of Lansdowne would be turned into a major city park.

Some councillors have expressed concern about spending millions of dollars to rebuild Lansdowne for professional football, but O’Brien’s comments offer the first solid indication that the dream of football at Lansdowne may be doomed. The idea would be sweet music to the ears of Glebe residents, particularly Councillor Clive Doucet, who has long wanted a civic park at the site.

With city council’s planning committee due to hear public delegations on the subject on April 20 and full city council set to discuss the issue two days later, O’Brien made it clear that the final decision on what direction to take would be made by council. But with the city in dire financial straits, he said the overriding goal would be to refurbish Lansdowne into a city park without saddling taxpayers with millions of dollars in unaffordable debt.

"I am not saying that’s what we are going do in the end, but I am saying that option is open to us as a city without having any negative impact on the taxpayer,? he said.

The stadium saga began with two private-sector proposals — the one that would see a professional football stadium and junior hockey arena at Lansdowne Park, and one for a soccer stadium for a Major League Soccer team in Kanata, near Scotiabank Place.

The Greenberg-Hunt group, which also includes developers Bill Shenkman and John Ruddy, secured a Canadian Football League franchise on the condition that they find a suitable stadium for the team; Frank Clair Stadium has been home to two previous CFL franchises. To complement the stadium and help defray costs, the group wants to build a mixed-use development that includes a hotel, office tower, shops and restaurants, theatres and homes. The city would pay for the stadium and the group would lease it for about 30 years.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk then put in a rival proposal for a new soccer stadium near the Senators’ hockey arena to be the home of a Major League Soccer team he hopes to bring to the city. His plan also includes a similar mixed-use development in western Kanata.

But things went awry about a week ago when a staff report on the two proposals said that going with either one would cost taxpayers $150 million over 30 years just for the stadium.

“When you are looking at where you want to spend money, the first priority one must have is to make sure the assets you have are properly looked after to provide maximum value to citizens,? O’Brien said. “The status quo is broken. We need to put that right.?

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

Very confusing. Now it doesn't surprise me that a football or soccer won't be built at Lansdowne. Melnyk as owner of the conditional CFL franchise? As you say, I don't get that after what he has said. But, if he wants the stadium in Kanata, maybe he will have to agree to this and change his tune. To be honest, he says all sorts of things and by the way he talks, it's very difficult to actually know what he really likes or not, he has that eerie salesmanship aura about him.

Not sure if the Hunt group wanted this all along?

Very interesting, who knows????????

RIP CFL football in Ottawa.
I suggested previously how Melnyk had the council in his hip pocket and this pretty much confirms it.

He "saved" the Senators so they owe him to a certain extent I suppose is the logic.

But I don't think the CFL is dead in the water yet in Ottawa, anything can still happen. Any funding the city gives for a Kanata stadium may be conditional on it being constructed for easy use for a CFL team, unlike BMO where they poured concrete for the endzone seating for soccer.

Exactly. This thing seems to take on a different position every day. Actually, so does the mayor.

The notion that the CFL would just casually give over the franchise rights to Melnyk is dumb anyway. He and his bum-chum spend the last few months running down the sport and the league, but now Cohon and the BoG should just accept this proposal. Right.

Meanwhile, even though all this discussion is supposed to be taking place, we have Jeff Hunt talking about bringing in a USL franchise with Lansdowne Live. Somebody somewhere is out to lunch with this whole thing.

Not to be cynical Earl, but what you suggest is exactly what the City of Toronto told MLSE regarding the supposed multi use soccer and football facility.
And how did that turn out with MLSE building only for soccer with our taxpayers money?

The more I think about it, the more I think the Kanata reports are garbage.

Jeff Hunt is specifically quoted today as saying that he would consider brigning in soccer. The other articles about a stadium in Kanata don't quote any members of the Hunt group. It only makes reference to people close to the situation and things of that nature.


I hope you're right.

For me, I'm going to go drink.

Tell me about it. There are certainly a lot of mixed messages in the media today. The Ottawa Sun article contradicts the Ottawa Citizen article. I can't believe that the Hunt Group would go to such lengths to guarantee a CFL franchise only to give it up just because they want development rights. The whole notion is preposterous.

Recent reports had Lansdowne favoured as the location for a stadium by the City Management and Ottawa public. Then this Citizen report comes along and contradicts them both. It doesn't make sense. Maybe it's just the reporters' wishes rather than the true facts.

Given that the CFL bid is a mutli-use stadium placed in the center of town, I feel that the CFL bid is very much alive.

Everything I have read about Melnyk tells me that Eugene does what is best for Eugene. (Including becoming a Barbadian-Canadian.)

In 2003 he scooped up the Sens and the Corel Centre on the cheap (if you call $125 million cheap). Did he do it out of civic pride? I don't think so.

He got a moveable asset (the team) at pretty close to market value and a smoking deal on the only major arena/concert venue serving over a million people. The Palladium/Corel Centre cost $163 million in 1996 and Melnyk essentially paid $25 million for it. To put that deal in context, the 9,000 seat JLC in London was completed in 2002 at a cost of $42 million. There are 18,000 seat arenas that make money on just concerts, Ice Capades, etc.

And he got to be the saviour of NHL hockey in the 4th largest city in Canada.

But what is better than getting a $163 million arena for $25 million? Getting a $100 million stadium for nothing. I think Melnyk's MLS bid was always about getting a "free" stadium out in Kanata to ensure that he is the (only) big fish in town, to leverage his Senators/Scotiabank Place investment and to maintain a monopoly on big concerts/events. (To be fair the Hunt group seems just as interested in redeveloping the Lansdowne real estate as getting a CFL team)

IMO Eugene Melnyk caught wind of the $100 million available to rebuild Lansdowne and wanted in on the action. But he couldn't pretend to be the CFL's biggest fan in Ottawa (especially after passing on the Renegades) and propose to rebuild Lansdowne because Hunt and company were already playing that angle.

So he became the biggest soccer/MLS fan in Ottawa and made a bid for an MLS expansion team. If he really was such a soccer fan, why didn't he already own a EPL team like his fellow billionaire NHL owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett? (Hicks and Gillett own Liverpool in the EPL) Or at the very least, a USL team like fellow Canadian billionaires Saputo and Kerfoot?

Remember that his offer was to buy the team (remember Eugene, $40 million US is $80 million Barbados dollars) but government would have to build the stadium. He never had a shot at a MLS franchise, but that doesn't matter because he was really going after the stadium.

When they didn't get the team, what did the Melnyk camp say? "Build the stadium anyway, that way we're sure to get in." And even if he got a team, it was a movable asset that could be shuffled off to some US city if it lost money in Ottawa. But he'd still have the stadium in Kanata.

IMO Melnyk would be thrilled to be a CFL owner at Kanata because if he can convince Ottawa to build him a stadium in Kanata for a $7.5 million CFL expansion fee instead of a $40 million MLS expansion fee, all the better. We all know that the CFL is more viable than ever before, and Melnyk knows that too. And the CFL in a brand new, spectator friendly stadium, with lots of parking (at $10 a car) and luxury boxes is at worst a break even enterprise (even if it is in Kanata).

But Melnyk won't care if his CFL team only breaks even, because he'll have a stadium, will have leveraged his investment in Scotiabank Place, be the only big fish in town and have a concert/event monopoly. And Hunt and company still get to redevelop Lansdowne. It is a win-win.

Sorry for the long post... conspiracy theories aren't short :lol:



CFL football at Scotiabank Place ‘not in the cards’: Lansdowne Live developer

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April 15, 2009

[i]Reports of the death of a plan to build an outdoor stadium at Lansdowne Park have been greatly exaggerated, said Roger Greenberg.

The head of the Lansdowne Live development group today refuted suggestions in the media that the group is willing to hand over its conditional franchise agreement with the Canadian Football League to Eugene Melnyk, allowing the team to play in a new outdoor stadium in Kanata, next to Scotiabank Place.

“That’s not in the cards,? said Greenberg. “That’s not coming from me.?

Greenberg, who is also the CEO of Minto Developments Inc., said his group remains committed to the Lansdowne Live proposal, spending $97 million to renovate and upgrade Frank Clair Stadium and the attached Ottawa Civic Centre, tied to a development at Lansdowne Park, with a shopping centre, restaurants, office and an aquarium.

Melnyk’s group wants to build an outdoor soccer stadium in Kanata, but the city only has enough money to support one stadium bid.

The Lansdowne Live group is willing to compromise, added Greenberg, agreeing to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to play at a renovated Frank Clair stadium.

“We’ve indicated that we’re prepared to allow MLS soccer to have the priority on dates,? said Greenberg.

The development group is willing to install turf meeting MLS standards, he added.

The Lansdowne Live group won’t consider another plan, unless city council clearly states Lansdowne Park is off the table, said Greenberg.

“If they come out and say, ‘We need a stadium in Kanata for these reasons,’ then that changes the story, but so far council hasn’t made that decision,? Greenberg said. “Until somebody decides that, it’s not our view that (Kanata’s) the proper location for it.?

Mayor Larry O’Brien said on Tuesday, April 14, he has been negotiating with the Greenberg and Melnyk groups, trying to look for a compromise.

O’Brien said the city’s main priority is to fix the downtown eyesore known as Lansdowne Park, whether or not that involves renovating Frank Clair.

The city currently spends $3.8 million annually to maintain and operate the run-down and little-used stadium.

City council will discuss the proposals next Wednesday, April 22.

“The two groups should be working on a proposal that works for the best of the city, as well as looking after their business interest, but more important looking after the implication on the taxpayers’ investment,? said Stittsville-Kanata West Coun. Shad Qadri.

Qadri said Lansdowne Park is a poor site to build an outdoor stadium, with poor access to public transportation and not enough parking spaces.

“The issue is can the stadium work there,? he said. “In my opinion it cannot.?

Kanata South Coun. Peggy Feltmate said the city can’t afford to spend $120-million-plus to build a stadium.

“I don’t think there’s an appetite for an investment of $120 million in sports team right now,? she said.[/i]

1- There is zero chance of Melnyk owning a CFL franchise in Ottawa. ZERO

2- It makes sense for any new building to be multi-use. It should have been that way in Toronto but someone took their eye off the ball and no one has the balls to investigate. This is a specified public tender, someone authorized an addendum and the only ones who can do that are the owners of the project (I know). So of course the city isn't going to investigate itself knowing they are at fault.

So either they build the new Landsdowne stadium for both sports with Hunt group owning the football team and either group owning a soccer team or the city builds it in Kenata and again Hunt group owns the CFL team and either group owns the soccer team. Both proposals would give Melnyk a timed option on the soccer "tennant" and if he passes then Hunt group should be allowed to option the soccer "tennant" and if they pass, then someone else at some point can bring pro soccer to Ottawa.

Really they are now putting the whole thing in front of the Melnyk group. I love it. P... or get off the pot as they say :wink:

I think it would be a better deal for the city of Ottawa to choose the Frank Clair location. Every North American city is moving away from the "donut" development idea and if they want a modern functional city with functional transit it starts by rethinking the "downtown" sector but if the politickers, tree huggers and neighberhood uberseniors won't let it happen. Kanata is the next best thing.

What kind of spineless people are running that city !

“The two groups should be working on a proposal that works for the best of the city, as well as looking after their business interest, but more important looking after the implication on the taxpayers’ investment,? said Stittsville-Kanata West Coun. Shad Qadri. Qadri said Lansdowne Park is a poor site to build an outdoor stadium, with poor access to public transportation and not enough parking spaces.

“The issue is can the stadium work there,? he said. “In my opinion it cannot.?

Kanata South Coun. Peggy Feltmate said the city can’t afford to spend $120-million-plus to build a stadium.

“I don’t think there’s an appetite for an investment of $120 million in sports team right now,? she said.

Ok The Kanata politicians are running down Landsdowne as a site. Like that is a surprise LOL!

The public transportation comment is incredible. That has nothing to do with the site but everything to do with their transit system and adding activity to the area will make public transportation more sustainable not less. Not like the public transportation makes more sense to bring everyone to Kanata !


... hallelujah again...

Stadium debate continues at City Hall
Councillors keen on hosting football and soccer in a single venue

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[i]There seems to be some appetite on council to invest in one open-air stadium to accommodate both professional football and soccer.

And given the pressure to do something green and unique with Lansdowne Park, the path of least resistance may lead to Kanata.

Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson said she has spoken with members of the Senators Sports & Entertainment group, who want to build a $110 million, 20,000 seat open-air stadium close to Scotiabank Place, trying to convince them that any stadium built in Kanata must allow for both pro sports.

The rival Lansdowne Live group wants to renovate Frank Clair Stadium for a CFL franchise, but have said pro soccer could also play there, and have even offered to give SS&E first choice of home dates should they land an MLS franchise.

The two groups are scheduled to present their proposals to city council on April 20. Council is scheduled to make a decision two days later.

But as the deadline approaches, Mayor Larry O’Brien and some councillors have held discussions with SS&E and the Lansdowne Live group in hopes of reaching a compromise.

Wilkinson said yesterday there is “general movement in that direction.?

She wasn’t sure that in the end SS&E owner Eugene Melnyk will decide in favour of working with the other side, but “he is considering it,? she said.

SS&E chief operating officer Cyril Leeder declined to comment on the negotiations because “the landscape is moving on a regular basis.?

“We are trying to get something done but not sure where this will go at this time,? he said.

However, support for the Kanata proposal is not what one of the four local businessmen behind the Lansdowne Live proposal is hearing. [b]Roger Greenberg said his group remains committed to its original proposal of renovating Frank Clair Stadium and the adjoining Civic Centre, and developing about nine acres of adjacent land along bank street that would include movie theatres, a hotel and retail and residential space.

“We are focused on promoting our vision for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park as depicted in Lansdowne Live which we believe is gaining greater acceptance as we meet with various councillors and explain what’s going on from our perspective,? he said.

“There seems to be little support from councillors for a stadium in Kanata. So, discussion of any other solution at this point would appear to be academic. We will deal with it if and when council rejects our proposal. Obviously, our hope is that they will accept, at least in principle, that our proposal makes the most sense for the residents of Ottawa.?[/b] [/i]

My head is spinning with all of this stuff coming in all directions.
Like all of us here, I hope the politicians see the light.

SS&E chief operating officer Cyril Leeder declined to comment on the negotiations because “the landscape is moving on a regular basis.?
Leeder finally got one right. :thup:

last time melnyk was on fan 590, Bob made mention of when the leafs were lookin to build a new hockey rink, and teh raptors were lookin for their own basketball arena at the current ACC location, that the leafs said they hated that location and would NEVER partner with the raptors.....eventually, the leafs bought the raps, and built the ACC in that 'terrible' location.

so if this ottawa situation unfolds where melnyk gets the soccer team and the CFL team at lansdown or another location, it wouldnt be the first time something like this has happened.

Yes. but Melnyk was very cold when McCown asked him about the possibility of obtaining a CFL team. Basically saying unlikely, but never say never.
I do not see this as at all especially since he is connected to Tennenbaum in Toronto.

Oh boy, this way, that way. Lots of excellent reads guys. Yes, I'm sure Tanenbaum is telling Eugene a few things behind closed doors, for sure.