A long-awaited downtown arena for the Ottawa Senators took another step closer to fruition on Thursday.
The National Capital Commission announced that the team had been selected as the preferred bidder for the LeBreton Flats project and that a memorandum of understanding with a group led by the team had been signed for an “event center adults”.
The Senators’ bid was chosen before what the NCC called “multiple” other expressions of interest in the land, which sits just west of Ottawa’s Centretown neighborhood near downtown.
TSN contributor Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia reported earlier in the week that it was believed that one of the late Eugene Melnyk’s last acts as Senators owner was to sign the team’s development proposal. for a downtown arena by the NCC’s February 28 deadline. Melnyk died at the age of 62 on March 28 after a long illness.
In a master concept plan released in 2019, the NCC revealed that a potential downtown arena had received significant public interest. “The most frequently cited examples of a potential major attraction were a new hockey arena or a major events center,” the NCC wrote at the time. “Although there was not unanimous support for such a facility, it was the most frequently discussed topic.”
The Senators haven’t played in Ottawa proper since the Canadian Tire Center (then called the Palladium) opened in 1996. The franchise spent the first four years of its existence playing at the Ottawa Civic Centre, home of Ottawa team of the Ontario Hockey League. 67’s.