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Lansdowne Park may never be profitable, report suggests


A new financial report shows the city may never recoup its investment in the public-private partnership with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) at Lansdowne Park unless a second phase of development moves ahead.

The area is packed on days when the Ottawa Redblacks play and on weekends too, when outdoor markets setup shop, but when it comes to the weekday, Glebe resident Tom Steen says it’s empty of visitors.

“I think they made it too box-store-ish, not enough greenspace,” he says. “I think they just went too quick and not enough imagination and I know there was financial pressure but, at the end of the day, you have to spend money to make money.”

And right now, Lansdowne is deep in the red.

A financial forecast provided by OSEG shows overall revenue could be more than $200 million less than its original projection one year ago. Over the 40-year partnership arrangement, it is a significant drop from the more the half-billion dollars expected.

While the pandemic did affect the revenue stream, interest rates rose as well and OSEG chairman & managing partner Roger Greenberg says there were unexpected construction cost overruns from the start.

“The mistake we made that we really acknowledge is understanding how poorly maintained the existing north-side stands and the arena below really were. We had thought it could last the 40 years of the partnership and it clearly can’t,” he says. “While we said there is a pretty strong need a year ago [to replace the arena], when we look forward what we’re seeing now, more so when we evaluate the impact of the existing infrastructure and how bad it is and how functionally obsolete it is, that the picture going forward as the status quo is even worse than we had projected a year ago, which actually makes the case for a Lansdowne 2.0 much better.”

The financial calculations and loss projections are based on what is currently at Lansdowne, OSEG President & CEO Mark Goudie says having world-class facilities to accommodate attractions is what’s needed.

Lansdowne 2.0, as it’s dubbed, would be constructed in three phases, including a new arena/entertainment venue, retail and 1,200 residential units. It's projected to be completed in 2029. Last year, cost estimates hovered around $330 million.

However, Glebe Community Association vice-president June Creelman is skeptical of any new projects before revenue problems can be rectified.

“What about the taxpayers? We put in $210 million of funding, we’ve given all the land for $1 a year ,we’ve given the stadium and the arena, and they say we’re going to get no return on our investment ever over 40 years and that just strikes me as astounding,” she says. “And to increase the retail by 60,000 square feet in these times when bricks-and-mortar retail is suffering everywhere … I just wonder if it’s too optimistic. We need to get way more public consultation and input and look at how we can make it way more successful.”

The city is expected to review the ‘Lansdowne 2.0’ development proposal in July. Top Stories

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