OTTAWA -- Dozens of delegations addressed the city’s Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDCO) during a marathon meeting Thursday over whether to recommend giving the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) a financial lifeline to help it survive COVID-19 and beyond.

"It’s the perfect storm," said OSEG managing partner and executive chair Roger Greenberg. "It has devastated all of our business lines—sports, entertainment and retail."

The committee didn’t hold a vote but "carried" the staff recommendations that would change the partnership agreement with the city and OSEG to allow OSEG to:

  • Use $4.7 million from its reserve fund for operations this year
  • Extend the lease by 10 years
  • Establish a working group to look at long-term sustainability

"What’s the rush to do this right now? Lets take our time, get it right," said June Creelman from the Glebe Community Association. "Our position is approve the short term recommendation for short-term financial relief, delay any of the others and I ran out of time but a full, public process for longer changes."

"I’m confident that our satisfaction with Lansdowne will only rise in the future thanks to OSEG’s commitment to responsible growth through innovation, customer service and community engagement," said Rob Ashe. "For the record I fully support any measures that FEDCO and the city can take to help ensure OSEG endures COVID-19."

Former mayor Jim Durrell says while it won’t address all issues, "it’s certainly a major step in the right direction."

The report to FEDCO also said should OSEG default, it could cost the city up to $400 million.

"We are not bailing them out, it’s a business decision," said city manager Steve Kanellakos.

Many pushed for the plan, including the former general manager of the Ottawa Roughriders Jo-Anne Polak.

"What has been created through this partnership is nothing short of a masterpiece," she said.

Others still had many questions.

“If the report is approved as-is, the city is giving away all of our cards before knowing the full story,” said Anthony Carricato.

Council will vote on the recommendation.