The City of Ottawa's icy relationship with the Ottawa Senators has begun to thaw, months after a fight over the city's handling of the casino site-selection process.
Last fall, Senators owner Eugene Melynk was livid after he wasn't given the opportunity to make a bid for a new casino and build it in Kanata.
Instead, the city's finance and economic development committee voted to say no to a new casino unless it was at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.
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Not long after Melnyk expressed his frustration and threatened to sue the city, team president Cyril Leeder resigned from four community boards.
But Leeder said the Senators and the city are now working together again.
"What's happened in the last little while is that we are working well together on a number of initiatives and I've rejoined a number of activities," said Leeder.
City fund helps bring events to Canadian Tire Centre
Leeder said the city is helping the Senators attract big events to the Canadian Tire Centre.
Mayor Jim Watson said the city is now helping support the team by spending money through its bidding office to attract large events to venues like the Canadian Tire Centre.
"We bid on the Junos, NHL All-Star games, these are events that with city dollars help fill that facility and that's good for the teams," said Watson.
"Through our bidding office, we're actually putting dollars in, close to $900,000 to help events — major concerts, conferences sporting events — that are coming to the Canadian Tire Centre," he said.
Both Watson and Leeder were speaking at the release of a study that said the Senators play a "very important" role to the Ottawa economy.
Leeder said having the data from the University of Ottawa study might have helped the Senators make their case for a casino bid, but said he didn't know if it would have made a difference.
While the city's relationship with the Senators has become closer, the importance of the casino bidding process also appears to have lessened.
Since the new year, the Senators financial outlook has been boosted by two large television deals. The NHL reached a 12-year, $5.2-billion agreement with Rogers Communications for the league's broadcast rights, and later the Senators inked their own 12-year deal with Bell Media for local games.
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Leeder said as a result, the team has never been on better financial footing.
Watson said if the city learned anything from the casino site-selection process, it's that the public appetite for a new casino wasn't there.
"There is precious little support for a casino in any part of the city quite frankly and what we ended up doing is extending the status quo at Rideau Carleton Raceway," said Watson.