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Finance

Senators up for sale amid drive for new arena

Design concept for a new arena

Featured image credit: Ottawa Senators/Populous

NHL ice hockey franchise the Ottawa Senators, which is in the midst of efforts to develop a new arena, has been placed up for sale.

Galatioto Sports Partners, a New York-based investment bank, has been retained by the Melnyk family to sell the team, according to the Ottawa Sun newspaper. The Senators are part of the estate Eugene Melnyk left to his daughters, Anna and Olivia, following his death in March.

Melnyk acquired the Senators and its Canadian Tire Centre arena in 2003 for $130m (£113.1m/€131.2m). A report published this week by sports business website Sportico valued the team at $655m, but its sale is expected to come at a far greater fee.

The Sun, citing league sources, said the Senators are expected to remain in Ottawa, with plans to develop a new arena in the Canadian city having been rekindled this year. The development of a new arena returned to the table years after the collapse of a previous proposal in acrimonious circumstances, after Capital Sports Development Inc. (CSDI), a group led by the Senators, was chosen in June to develop land at the LeBreton Flats area of Ottawa.

CSDI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Capital Commission (NCC), the Crown corporation responsible for development, urban planning, and conservation in Canada’s Capital Region, which is focusing on the development of a major event centre at LeBreton Flats.

CSDI is proposing to build an NHL hockey arena and events venue surrounded by mixed-use development. The NCC and CSDI are working towards the goal of signing a long-term lease agreement by autumn 2023.

CSDI’s proposal involves Sterling Project Development (SPD), a real estate management and advisory group experienced in working with professional sports teams on sports facilities and mixed-use development. SPD recently completed UBS Arena, the new home of the New York Islanders NHL franchise.

Global architectural design firm Populous; Tipping Point Sports, a boutique sports finance and advisory firm; and US entertainment giant Live Nation are also involved in the venture.

The Sun said the project partners last month met with Anthony LeBlanc, the club’s president of business operations, chief financial officer Erin Crowe and NCC officials.