Ottawa Senators ink downtown arena deal once again

The National Capital Commission has again inked an agreement with the Ottawa Senators that would bring a new NHL arena to LeBreton Flats near downtown Ottawa, years after the collapse of another Sens-backed arena plan.

Memorandum of understanding signed to work on Albert Street development

This June 2022 rendering of a planned arena for the Ottawa Senators at LeBreton Flats is subject to change. (Capital Sports Development Inc.)

The National Capital Commission (NCC) has again inked an agreement with the Ottawa Senators that would bring a new NHL arena to LeBreton Flats near downtown Ottawa, years after the collapse of another Sens-backed arena plan.

The signed memorandum of understanding with the Senators-led Capital Sports Development Inc. lays the groundwork for an arena and mixed-use development on Albert Street between Preston Street and City Centre Avenue.

The group was chosen because its bid "checked all the boxes," NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum told reporters after Thursday's announcement. (Losing bidders and their ideas have not and will not be made public, Nussbaum said, citing a confidentiality agreement.)

The selection committee was also impressed with the new partners the Senators brought to the table for this latest bid, all of whom have solid experience in the industry, Nussbaum added.

WATCH | The NCC on the deal:

Once again, NCC makes deal with Ottawa Senators to bring arena to LeBreton Flats

1 year ago
Duration 1:10
NCC chairperson Marc Seaman says splitting up LeBreton Flats into parcels and creating an overall master plan will ensure the success of the new deal with the Ottawa Senators. A previous plan to build an area at the site collapsed in 2018.

Plans are still in their infancy, but the NCC said it has a goal of autumn 2023 to reach a long-term land lease on seven acres at LeBreton with "clear targets related to sustainability, affordable housing and benefits for the Algonquin Nation," according to an NCC news release issued Thursday.

The City of Ottawa will have to approve the plans as well. No completion timeline was provided by the NCC on Thursday, but officials called it both realistic and "aggressive."

A previous arena plan fell apart in 2018.

For this latest plan, the Senators are joined by:

  • Sterling Project Development, a real-estate management and advisory group that recently completed the new home of the New York Islanders.
  • Populous, which designed Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Vidéotron Centre in Québec City, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.
  • Tipping Point Sports, a sports finance and advisory firm focusing on public-private partnerships for sports-anchored mixed-use developments.
  • Live Nation, an entertainment company that produces concerts and festivals.

Anthony LeBlanc, president of business operations for the Senators, said in a statement that they're looking forward to working alongside the NCC as the project takes shape.

"We believe that this development will have a major impact on both the Nation Capital Region and our franchise, one that will help to shape the future of the city," Leblanc was quoted as saying.

An arena with the Ottawa Senators name and logo next to a waterway and surrounded by highrises.
No timeline for the mixed-use development was provided by the NCC on Thursday. (Capital Sports Development Inc.)

How we got here

In April, amid rampant speculation that an arena could be on the way, the NCC said only that "multiple pitches" for "major attractions" had been submitted after its request for proposals in 2021.

"We have a lot of interest in getting this right.... Expectations, I think, on the NCC are high for these sites, so we want to be sure to take the time to get it right," Nussbaum told reporters at the time.

Residents weren't given a chance to weigh in ahead of the NCC's selection of a preferred proponent, but Nussbaum noted in April that residents had already discussed what they want to see at LeBreton during public consultations for the LeBreton Flats Master Concept Plan in 2019, and that an arena was at the top of the list.

Nussbaum said Thursday the NCC had strongly signalled it was "very open" to an arena at the site, which will create a hub that's important for the success of the entire LeBreton Flats redevelopment plan.

Asked about the previous plan's collapse, Nussbaum said the NCC kept the lessons it learned in mind this time, and that it has "much, much greater confidence that these bite-sized chunks [of land to develop] are more manageable."