NHL’s Bettman books ticket to Ottawa as optimism over outdoor game increases

The final event in Mayor Jim Watson’s much-touted “hat trick” of marquee Canada 150 spectacles appears close to being a reality.

New Ottawa Senators president Tom Anselmi told TSN 1200 radio last week that the much-anticipated outdoor NHL game expected to be held at TD Place on Dec. 17 is all but a go, and it’s just a matter of working out the final details.

“It’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re down to crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s.”

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Mr. Anselmi, the former president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment who replaced longtime Sens president Cyril Leeder in late January, said the club is hoping to reveal more details “in the next week or two.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be in Ottawa in mid-March as part of a four-day celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup that will include the unveiling of a new monument at the corner of Sparks and Elgin streets.

During his visit, Mr. Bettman is scheduled to be the guest speaker at OBJ’s Mayor’s Breakfast on March 17. That event, co-presented with the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, is being held at the Horticulture Building – right next door to TD Place, where the outdoor game is likely to take place.

Once it’s official, the announcement will mark the culmination of years of speculation and anticipation about an outdoor NHL game to cap off the city’s Canada 150 celebrations. Local tourism officials said as far back as 2012 they were exploring the idea of hosting such an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first NHL game in Ottawa, which was held on Dec. 19, 1917.

The two other events in Mr. Watson’s so-called “hat trick” – April’s Juno Awards and the 105th Grey Cup in November – have already been announced. They are part of a year-long series of high-profile events to commemorate the 150th anniversary of confederation that also includes next month’s Red Bull Crashed Ice skating race, the Stanley Cup celebration and an interactive multimedia show set in the future Lyon light-rail station.

Officials at Ottawa Tourism are banking on a hefty Canada 150 boost. They expect eight million visitors to the capital in 2017, about 1.75 million more than the city sees in an average year.


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