Ottawa

Ottawa Senators 'not for sale at any price,' Eugene Melnyk insists as rivals come courting

The two groups competing to win the right to redevelop LeBreton Flats sparred Tuesday over which of them will one day bring the Ottawa Senators downtown.

Ownership of the NHL franchise emerges as key issue in multi-billion dollar LeBreton redevelopment

RAW Eugene Melnyk accused of bluffing about Sens sale

7 years ago
Duration 0:20
Daniel Peritz of DCDLS accused the Ottawa Senators owner of business tactics, with Melnyk right next to him.

The two groups competing to win the right to redevelop LeBreton Flats sparred Tuesday over which of them will one day bring the Ottawa Senators downtown.

RendezVous Lebreton Group, led by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, would appear to have the advantage.

Central to the group's proposal includes an 18,000 seat "major event centre" capable of hosting up to 180 major events per year, including 40-50 NHL games.

Melnyk has said he has no intention of selling his team, and no intention of letting the Senators play at a LeBreton Flats arena if RLG doesn't win the bid.

Rivals plan arena

Neverthless, rivals Devcore Canderel DLS Group are also planning to build an NHL-calibre arena, and are adamant they want the Senators to play there.

Calling his group's "LeBreton Re-Imagined" proposal an "elegant solution" to the dilemma, Canderel vice-president Daniel Peritz was unswayed by Melnyk's snub. 

"We firmly believe the Senators should be downtown," Peritz said. "We are flexible and motivated to seeing this happen, including welcoming all forms of discussions with the current owners of the Senators."

Our intention is to build the arena. Our intention is, if we win the bid, to have discussions with Mr. Melnyk, whatever those may be, in respect to the Senators moving downtown.- Daniel Peritz, Canderel vice-president

Peritz didn't elaborate on what that meant, or what will happen if his group wins and Melnyk remains obstinate.

"Our intention is to build the arena. Our intention is, if we win the bid, to have discussions with Mr. Melnyk, whatever those may be, in respect to the Senators moving downtown. We believe firmly that's where they should be."

Peritz said no member of his group has reached out formally to Melnyk, and the terms set out by the NCC forbids any such interaction between proponents. Nor has his group reached out to the NHL, Peritz said.

​Currently, the arena is in the third phase of the Devcore Canderel DLS proposal, but Peritz says it could be constructed sooner if his group is able to procure the Senators.

"We're not bound to it being in the third phase, it could be in the early stages of the development," Peritz said.

But Senators president Cyril Leeder scoffed at the suggestion the Sens might make the move to a rink they don't own.

Sens not for sale

"I could see how someone might want to use this nation-building exercise to get into the hockey business, but most of us on this team are already in the hockey business," Leeder quipped.

Melnyk, who also attended today's presentations at the Canadian War Museum, kept his answer curt when asked if he planned to engage in ownership discussions with his rivals.

"No," Melnyk said. "I don't have any intention of selling the team at any price. I have no intention of moving into anyone else's place. And, economically, you just can't justify building an arena when you have one, just for the sake of building an arena, even if the land was given to us."

Melnyk said an NHL team — particularly in a mid-sized Canadian market like Ottawa — can't survive on ticket sales, concessions and advertizing alone, and needs other sources of revenue.

"We've tried for 13 years. There's no secret formulas," said Melnyk.

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