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Senators arena plans suffer blow

A proposed new arena for NHL ice hockey team the Ottawa Senators is in doubt after Canada’s National Capital Commission (NCC) announced that a settlement has not been reached on a redevelopment project for LeBreton Flats.

An 18,000-seat downtown arena has been planned as the centrepiece of a major redevelopment of LeBreton Flats, an area of Ottawa that has been vacant since the 1960s.

In April 2016, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and his RendezVous LeBreton group won the right to build the new arena as part of a C$4bn (£2.3bn/€2.7bn/$3bn) development in association with Trinity Developments, headed by John Ruddy.

The project has made little progress since then amid growing animosity between Trinity Developments and Capital Sports Management, a company owned by Melnyk.

In December, Trinity Development filed a C$1bn counterclaim against Capital Sports Management after Melnyk had previously filed a C$700m lawsuit against Ruddy over the plans for the land. Melnyk accused Ruddy of leveraging the redevelopment to raise the profile of a nearby apartment complex.

The NCC, which owns the land, has previously voted unanimously in favour of potentially starting a new process to redevelop LeBreton Flats and yesterday (Wednesday) announced that no settlement could be reached between partners of RendezVous LeBreton.

The Ottawa Citizen newspaper reports that the NCC board will meet on March 7 to “finalise the elements of a new process”, suggesting that an alternative plan is being drawn up.

In a statement reported by the Citizen, Melnyk said: “We are devastated that the dream has been shattered. More than ever, we are determined and committed to explore alternative approaches in central locations that could accommodate a world-class hub. We are here for the long-term and want a world-class venue where Ottawans will live, work, play and enjoy the best the city has to offer.”

Ruddy added: “While I am disappointed the mediation concluded without success, I would urge the National Capital Commission to move forward on the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats – regardless of whether Trinity Group plays a role or not – given the importance of this redevelopment to our community.”

The Senators have played in the 18,600-seat Canadian Tire Centre (pictured) since 1996, but its location in the suburb of Kanata has made it unpopular with fans.

Image: Jfvoll