The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group unveiled its vision for a revamped Lansdowne Park Wednesday, floating a plan that includes rebuilt north-side stands at TD Place stadium and a new standalone arena with 5,500 seats, as well as 1,200 new residential units.
The plan, dubbed “Lansdowne 2.0,” comes with a price tag of $330 million. But OSEG president and CEO Mark Goudie vowed that the project would be “tax-neutral,” saying the proposal will be a “self-financing proposition.”
The first phase of the plan calls for the Civic Centre arena to be relocated from its current site under the north-side stands to the east end zone of TD Place.
The venue will continue to be home to the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s and Ottawa Blackjacks of the Canadian Elite Basketball League and will host “world-class arts and entertainment, concerts and events geared to a facility of this size,” OSEG said in its proposal.
The proposed stadium will also have a “living green roof” that would connect it with the existing stadium berm and the Great Lawn.
“Ottawa deserves modern venues with modern amenities,” Goudie said in a statement. “The arena has always been the heartbeat of Lansdowne, and upgrading it to a mid-size event centre will make it possible for us to retain and attract events that will allow us to continue to make memories for generations to come.”
More retail space
The second phase would see the existing north-side stands torn down and replaced with a two-deck structure with room for 12,000 spectators, down from the current 14,000 seats. The CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks and Canadian Soccer League’s Atlético Ottawa would continue to play at the stadium.
Under the plan, the total amount of retail and mixed-use space at Lansdowne would increase from 40,000 to 100,000 square feet. According to drawings in the proposal, OSEG plans to construct a trio of residential towers that would feature 1,200 new residential suites in a mix of rental apartments and condos.
“Lansdowne will truly become both a civic gathering place and a 15-minute neighbourhood that meets density targets set out in the new Official Plan,” the document says.
The new plan will pay for itself with additional tax revenues from new commercial tenants, as well as air rights fees from the residential towers, according to OSEG. The organization is also banking on rising ticket sales and “direct cash distributions to the City from the Lansdowne Partnership” to ensure taxpayers aren’t left on the hook.
The proposal is part of OSEG’s ongoing efforts to generate more revenue from Lansdowne Park, which has not been the money-maker the organization and the city envisioned when the 40-acre downtown site was originally redeveloped nearly a decade ago.
Goudie told OBJ in late 2020 the organization – which owns the Redblacks as well as the OHL’s 67’s and manages the stadium, arena and retail and commercial spaces at Lansdowne Park – expected to start breaking even by 2022, but those projections were derailed by the pandemic.
He said OSEG partners Roger Greenberg, William Shenkman, John Pugh and John Ruddy are willing to pump an additional $40 million into the project over the next five years to cover expected losses.
In December 2020, city council agreed to amend the organization’s 30-year partnership with the city, extending the agreement by another decade to 2054 to give OSEG’s owners more time to recoup their investments. A working group made up of city and OSEG officials was also struck “to study opportunities to enhance and broaden Lansdowne’s appeal.”
Last summer, Ottawa city officials asked OSEG and the city to explore the demolition and replacement of the north-side stands and existing arena. The staff report also called for more affordable housing to boost Lansdowne’s long-term viability.
Ottawa city council is expected to consider the plan next month.