Senators owner muses about building arena in Gatineau, but would prefer Kanata
OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk says he’s considering building a new arena for his NHL team across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, but would prefer the team stay in Kanata.
Speaking on "The Bob McCown Podcast," Melnyk said his preference is to build a new arena on the 70 acres of land he owns around the Canadian Tire Centre, but also mused about building a new arena in Quebec.
"I like it out in Kanata, but if I can't get anything done there I've also had proposals of still staying in the Ottawa area, but going across the river into Gatineau," said Melnyk.“There's some beautiful land, beautiful backdrops of Parliament Hill from there, it is closer to downtown.
“But I’m still committed to Kanata, and I’m looking at sometime in the next three to five years, committing to one or the other.
“Either we build another stadium out in Kanata on our own property that we own, or there’s a great deal that comes from the other side of the river.”
The Canadian Tire Centre opened in 1996. Melnyk says the Senators will need a new arena in five to 10 years. He said he recently spent $11 million on a new HVAC system at the CTC to clear the air better due to COVID-19.
Melnyk ruled out building a new arena at LeBreton Flats as the National Capital Commission begins to develop the land west of downtown Ottawa. Melnyk and Trinity Development Group had proposed the RendezVous LeBreton development in 2016, but that partnership fell apart.
Melnyk told Bob McCown and John Shannon on "The Bob McCown Podcast" he met with a developer last weekend to discuss a possible development on the Senators land in Kanata.
"I'm 75 per cent, 85 per cent staying in Kanata,” Melnyk said. “I’m just saying there's an option for us to not stay there and move to another part of Ottawa, or even across the river.”
He added that development has expanded westward in the city since he bought the Senators in 2003.
“That 26-minute drive that felt like forever is no longer a big deal,” he said, adding that light rail transit out to Kanata would be a game-changer for the club.
"As long as you're on the LRT. There is word, they haven't gotten approval yet and that's why I'm kind of waiting, that they're going to have the LRT go all the way out to Kanata and we would be a stop. If that happens, that's a big plus because then you take away the drive and we can use some of the parking," said Melnyk.
Stage Two of LRT will go as far west as Moodie Drive by 2025, but there is no firm plan to extend the line to Kanata.
Melnyk told McCown he hasn't had "the easiest time in the city of Ottawa" politically, and slammed the city’s finance committee for approving a grant for a new Porsche dealership in Vanier.
"Here I am paying through the nose in taxes out there and they just gave the Porsche dealer a $2.6 million tax break," said Melnyk, adding city politicians and staff described it as an "economic benefit."
"What economic benefit? He's selling goddamn Porsches. Give me a break. Give me the tax break! I'm dying out here, I've got no fans and I'm still trying to put on a show for everyone."
On Tuesday, the finance and economic development committee gave the green light to a $2.9 million grant to build a Porsche dealership at the corner of Montreal Road and St. Laurent Boulevard.