Following hours of last-minute negotiations, a controversial clause in the Lansdowne contract was removed Friday, clearing the way for a council vote early next week on redeveloping the aging Ottawa entertainment complex.

Buried in the fine print and unnoticed until Thursday, some councillors said, was a section giving the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group first say in any stadium facilities built in the city for the next 30 years.

Representatives from Coun. Christine Leadman's office contacted Ottawa Senators president Cyril Leeder once they discovered the clause, who in turn e-mailed west-end councillors Marianne Wilkinson, Shad Qadri, Eli El-Chantiry and Peggy Feltmate accusing the clause of being "likely illegal."

The near-death of the pact was the latest chapter in a years-long odyssey to revitalize the aging facility, one that has seen input from groups ranging from Ottawa farmers selling on the grounds, to heritage committees worried about the legacy a new Lansdowne would leave behind.

'A monopoly'

"Effectively, the agreement is providing a monopoly on entertainment, hockey and stadium facilities in the city for the next 30 years," Leeder wrote in an e-mail Thursday afternoon, obtained by CTV Ottawa. 

"This is not only bad public policy; it is inappropriate and likely illegal. It will certainly have major negative consequences for the Ottawa Senators and the city."

Kevin McCrann, speaking for OSEG, said the clause had been highlighted to councillors in the past and he was surprised at how big a deal this was turning out to be. He said the group had never intended to stifle competition.

"To us, it's a small issue when it was negotiated in the contract," he told CTV Ottawa. "It was primarily there to not have the city go off and build another stadium in five or 10 years."

A vote on Lansdowne could come as early as Monday, but likely will be pushed to Tuesday given the complexity of the contract being examined.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman