NCC ‘optimistic’ LeBreton lease deal with Senators will be done by this fall

Ottawa Sens building
An artist's rendering shows a proposed design for a new NHL arena at LeBreton Flats. File photo

The National Capital Commission says it’s on track to seal a long-term agreement with the Ottawa Senators later this year for a new NHL arena at LeBreton Flats.

Laura Mueller, the agency’s chief of planning and engagement for the LeBreton Flats project, told the NCC’s board of directors Thursday that talks with Senators-led Capital Sports Development aimed at hammering out a long-term lease on the land west of downtown are progressing even as the NHL club looks for a new owner.

“While this process is under way, I can assure you that we remain optimistic that our discussions will lead to a long-term lease agreement by fall of 2023,” Mueller said.

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Mueller told the board Capital Sports Development is performing due diligence to understand site conditions at LeBreton and is continuing its design work on the project. She said “identification of programmatic needs for the development and the facility is also under way.”

The NCC signed a memorandum of understanding with the organization led by the Senators last June to build a major events centre as part of a mixed-use development at a six-acre plot of land on Albert Street between City Centre Avenue and Preston Street.

The site was identified for a potential major facility in the 2021 LeBreton Flats Master Concept Plan, reflecting the feedback of more than 5,000 people who participated in public consultations. 

The NCC’s request for expressions of interest to seek major attractions at LeBreton Flats was launched in December 2021 and garnered multiple submissions. 

The Senators are working with a number of partners on the plan, including Sterling Project Development, a real estate management and advisory group experienced in working with professional sports teams on sports facilities and mixed-use development; Populous, a global firm that has designed major sports facilities, such as Videotron Centre in Quebec City; Tipping Point Sports, a boutique sports finance and advisory firm focusing on public-private partnerships for sports-anchored, mixed-use developments; and Live Nation, a global entertainment company that produces concerts and festivals.

Supporters of moving the Senators’ home closer to the downtown core have long pushed for an NHL-calibre arena to be a cornerstone of the NCC’s long-term plan to redevelop the Flats. 

The NHL team and Trinity Development Group were the NCC’s preferred bidders to build an arena and mixed-use development on the site in a process that was launched a few years ago. But that plan fell apart in 2019 amid legal wrangling between the partners, forcing the NCC to go back to the drawing board.

Last November, the Senators put the hockey club and its home arena, the Canadian Tire Centre, up for sale, with the one condition that the team remain in the capital. The following month, the team announced that the lawsuit against its former partners in the LeBreton Flats project had been settled.

Earlier this week, the Ottawa Citizen and Sun reported that Galatioto Sports Partners, the New York-based firm that’s helping the Senators find a buyer, has opened up a due-diligence website to let prospective buyers take a look at the team’s books.

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