The indoor soccer season has been abruptly cancelled for more than 300 teams and thousands of players in Ottawa two weeks after it was originally set to begin.
Coliseum Inc. was forced to move its dome from Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne Park due to the park's redevelopment. The City of Ottawa and Coliseum Inc. had a contract, which was not yet expired, and city officials agreed to help Coliseum relocate its dome at a University of Ottawa field.
City solicitor Rick O'Connor said negotiations on a new, "complex," three-party agreement had been moving forward for about three years. He said the city sent the new agreement to Coliseum Inc. on Nov. 13, with a deadline to sign on Nov. 21.
"The City of Ottawa has not formally terminated any negotiations with Coliseum Inc.," O'Connor said in a memo.
Full refunds promised for clubs, teams
The leagues were supposed to start in early to mid November but on Nov. 19, the Coliseum soccer website said the earliest planned start would be delayed until Dec. 10.
On Wednesday, the same website said the City of Ottawa had terminated its contract with Coliseum Inc.
The Coliseum website also promised full refunds, to be delivered next week, for all teams and soccer clubs that registered teams for the fall/winter season. That includes teams playing in the "Soccer 7s" league for youth and adults, as well as leagues run by the Ottawa Sport and Social Club.
Also on Nov. 19, the website said the "retrofit of fabric and field repairs are weather dependent" and "could be pushed further."
Coliseum Inc. co-owner, Martin Lauter, told the CBC's Waubgeshig Rice money was not the issue. He accused the city of changing the contract, which would have changed the way the business ran.
"We base our show on how we ran at Lansdowne Park for 12 seasons," Lauter said. "As of now, we're closed out, which means we're out of business."
Miscommunication fuels confusion, frustration
O'Connor's memo said the city is "surprised" by Coliseum's message on its website, which claims the city terminated the contract.
Coliseum's lawyer has now requested access to the University of Ottawa field to remove their equipment, O'Connor said.
Lauter said the city told him it was a "non-negotiable" agreement that would have lasted six more years, where Coliseum would have leased from the city, who would have leased from the University of Ottawa.
A spokesman for the University of Ottawa told CBC News the field was in perfect condition and it was ready for the dome to be installed. When officials from Coliseum Inc. arrived they decided not to install the dome, he said.
Lauter disagreed, telling CBC News the field was a "construction site" on Nov. 9 when they were set to set up the dome.
On Twitter, some teams voiced their displeasure on the cancellation, wondering why it was not announced until the end of November. Teams said they were only notified Wednesday night about a contract issue and the cancellation of the season.
The University of Ottawa Gee Gees were forced to move their home football games to Carleton Place this season to allow for the dome's installation. O'Connor said the university has spent the summer building the field for the dome.