Lansdowne north side stands and arena should be demolished, city staff say
OTTAWA -- The arena and north side stands at TD Place should be demolished and replaced for Lansdowne Park to succeed as a destination, a new report from the city says.
The facilities are “approaching functional obsolescence” and should be replaced with a smaller arena, housing and commercial and retail space as part of revitalizing the site, which has sometimes struggled to attract foot traffic on non-game days.
The recommendation is part of a big-picture report about the future of Lansdowne Park as a sustainable endeavour for the next 33 years.
The city and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group run Lansdowne as partners. That partnership ended the 2019-20 fiscal year with an $11-million loss, mostly due to the pandemic.
That spurred the establishment of two working groups to examine Lansdowne’s future, and look at options to enhance its long-term viability. One includes just city staff, the other has both city staff and OSEG representatives.
Chief among the findings is the recommendation to demolish the Civic Centre, where the Ottawa 67’s play, and the north side stands of TD Place stadium, home of the Redblacks.
The stands and arena were built in 1967 and although they are structurally sound, they are rife with problems.
The washrooms are so old that 50 port-a-potties are brought into the stadium for Redblacks game. The arena ceiling is leaking. There are persistent mold outbreaks. The arena roof and concourse aren’t insulated, leading to a cold rink and high operating costs.
The dressing rooms are small, there are accessibility issues, no press box, and a lack of proper ventilation for concessions.
“This already old facility is approaching functional obsolescence,” the report says. “Even if it was maintained at its current state, (it) would in actual fact continue to fall further behind what guest expectations are in a competitive marketplace."
Three options considered
The working groups examined three options for the stands and the arena: keep the status quo, refurbish them, or replace them with new, modern structures. They chose the replacement option.
The report recommends exploring an option that would replace the arena and stands with a smaller, five-thousand-seat multi-purpose event centre, which it says is a more appropriate size for OHL games and mid-sized musical and cultural events.
To help pay for the project, the city would sell the air rights above the existing structures that remain to build new housing, some of which would be affordable housing. It would also make room for new commercial or retail space.
There are no estimates in the report about what the demolition and replacement would cost.
The old south side stands were demolished in 2011 and replaced with brand new stands featuring club seating, a large concourse and modern vending facilities.
The review also looks at ways to attract crowds to Lansdowne on non-game days, which has proven to be a challenge at times since it was revitalized. It makes special note that the space should be more inviting to pedestrians and cyclists.
The report also has a public engagement plan to ensure the community is involved in the decision-making for Lansdowne.
The Lansdowne report will be discussed at the city’s finance and economic development committee on July 6.