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Finance

Andlauer seals Senators takeover, talks arena plans

Featured image credit: Jfvoll/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Toronto billionaire Michael Andlauer has completed his acquisition of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators and promised to listen to fans when deciding on a location for a potential new home arena.

Andlauer reached an agreement to acquire the Senators in June and the takeover has now been approved by the NHL’s board of governors. Andlauer has assumed control of the team’s operations with immediate effect.

Anna and Olivia Melnyk, through the Melnyk Estate, will retain a 10% interest in the Senators, with Andlauer having purchased the remaining 90% for a reported $950m (£778m/€896m). The Senators are part of the estate Eugene Melnyk left to his daughters following his death in March 2022.

Melnyk acquired the Senators and its Canadian Tire Centre arena in 2003 for $130m. Andlauer, Toronto billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos, Jeffrey and Michael Kimel of Harlo Capital and Los Angeles producer Neko Sparks, were the four initial parties who submitted binding bids ranging between a reported $850m and $1bn by a deadline of May 15.

Andlauer previously held a share in rival NHL team the Montreal Canadiens. Following his takeover of the Senators, this interest has been divested.

The takeover comes amid talk of a new arena for the Senators. In June 2022, 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 team, was chosen to develop land at the LeBreton Flats area of the city.

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 will focus on the development of a major event centre at LeBreton Flats.

While detailed timelines and financial plans were not revealed during last year’s announcement, CSDI is proposing to build an NHL arena and events venue surrounded by mixed-use development.

Andlauer has refused to commit to a site for a new arena. “If I can increase the fan experience, that’s what I’m here for,” he said, according to the Ottawa Sun.

“So, probably the fans will help me dictate where the best place will be. We have federal buildings that are empty, we have the NCC with the best piece of land that’s available for development in probably any major city in North America. And, there’s this building (Canadian Tire Centre).”

He added: “The mayor wants it, the NCC wants it, the Senators want it, the fans want it. We’re all going in the same direction. It’s a matter of collaborating, working together and seeing what works.”