Lansdowne Park turning Aberdeen Square into full-scale event venue

Farmers market
The Lansdowne Farmers' Market. Photo via Ottawa Tourism

Lansdowne Park is revamping part of its pedestrian mall to host major events and concerts as part of a wider campaign to attract more year-round visitors to the area.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which operates Lansdowne Park and owns the myriad of sports teams that play there, announced Tuesday it will spend $250,000 to establish Aberdeen Square into a performance venue with shaded seating areas and other amenities. It announced the investment alongside the City of Ottawa and Casino Lac-Leamy, which will gain naming rights for the plaza.

Bordered by the Aberdeen Pavilion to the south and Cineplex Cinemas to the north, the space currently hosts the Lansdowne Farmers’ Market in the summer and fall seasons. The revamping will see Princess Patricia Way closed to vehicular traffic next to the plaza.

New infrastructure to power lighting and sound installations will be added to the site, as well as a portable stage for concerts. OSEG also announced it will set up an annual fund to support artists to perform in the square.

OSEG chief executive Mark Goudie said in a statement that the vision for Casino Lac-Leamy Plaza will bring “new energy” to Lansdowne. The site could even play host to Jurassic Park-style gatherings, he added, in reference to the public viewings that popped up in cities around Canada earlier this year to support the Toronto Raptors’ playoff run.

Capital Coun. Shawn Menard said in a statement that he expects the plaza changes to create a more family friendly atmosphere at Lansdowne.

“The plaza has been a good spot for the Farmers’ Market but without shady areas or seating, it can be difficult for families to spend as much time there as they’d like, so I think we’ll see far greater utilization of the area in the daytime once the work is completed,” he said.

The fresh infrastructure plans come a few months after OSEG announced it was conducting a full review of the 40-acre urban park’s operations in a bid to boost the number of annual visitors to Lansdowne.

While the site attracted nearly four million visitors in 2017 and sees plenty of activity during Ottawa Redblacks football games, OSEG recently conducted a survey that showed nearly one-third of Ottawa residents had never visited Lansdowne. Goudie told OBJ in April that OSEG is now looking to attract visitors year-round to boost attendance by as much as 35 per cent; with that in mind, he announced plans for a European-style Christmas market earlier this summer.

Lansdowne Park already plays host to events of various scale, including the CityFolk and Escapade music festivals on the Great Lawn venue as well as conferences and expos inside the Aberdeen Pavilion and Horticulture Building.

Goudie also revealed earlier this year that higher-than-expected startup costs and expensive repairs to Lansdowne’s sports venues have drastically sunk OSEG’s bottom line. He told OBJ, however, that there’s room for growth in the organization’s revenue projections if it can attract a new mix of visitors to the park.