City seeking theme park, "House of Sport" to boost economy

The city is hoping to land a theme park or other large-scale tourist attraction and is eyeing a home for major sports organizations as part of its economic development strategy, a new report says.

The document, which will be presented at next week’s finance and economic development committee meeting, outlines the city’s key priorities for fuelling economic growth in 2016 and beyond.

The report says Events Ottawa will continue its effort to attract “major sporting and cultural events” to the capital and will work with Ottawa Tourism to lure “potential entertainment-themed tourism attractions” to the city.

A strategic plan funded by the province concluded Ottawa “could support a number of entertainment tourist attractions including a theme park, upscale recreation vehicle park, a hotel/indoor water park, a Ripley’s-type attraction (Odditorium, 4-D Theatre, and Louis Tussauds Waxwork), a regional theme park, and a first-rate entertainment facility,” the report adds.

The city and Ottawa Tourism are also looking into the possibility of creating a “House of Sport” in the capital. According to the report, the facility would bring together a host of national sports federations and associated organizations and businesses under one roof.

“A House of Sport is to the major event and sporting industry what an incubator is to entrepreneurs and startups,” the report says, adding the city is still determining whether a “solid business case” exists for such a building.

On the 2017 front, Celebrations Ottawa, the non-profit agency in charge of planning Canada’s 150th birthday activities in the capital, will continue to announce major public and private funding commitments as well as “a series of high-profile blockbuster events” over the next year, the report says.

To guard against a birthday economic hangover, the city will host a one-day Tourism Summit in early 2016 to discuss strategies for sustaining growth in the hospitality sector beyond 2017.

The city also says it will work with the Ottawa Champions Can-Am League baseball team to explore ways of using the city’s 10,000-seat baseball stadium for other sporting and special events.