Pop-up businesses in store for Lansdowne as OSEG looks to attract more visitors to site

Lansdowne Park
Lansdowne Park

With football set to return to Lansdowne Park this summer, the owners of the CFL’s Redblacks are launching tryouts for more than just aspiring players.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group said Thursday it will offer small businesses a chance to open short-term pop-up storefronts at Lansdowne starting this fall.

“This is a great opportunity for small businesses and individuals that might not have thought it possible to establish a business at Lansdowne,” OSEG president and CEO Mark Goudie said in a statement.  

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“We are one of the Ottawa region’s top destinations for folks to eat, shop and play, and I’m excited by the prospect of adding to that with some interesting new attractions that our guests will enjoy. We’re going to play an important role in bringing people back together and putting smiles back on faces.”

In a news release, the organization said it is “particularly interested in proposals that will add fun activities, interesting things to see or perhaps unusual crafts and treats from local artisans.”

The Lansdowne Live district, which attracted more than four million visitors in 2019, is currently 94 per cent leased to a variety of businesses, including shops, restaurants and other services. The new pop-ups will operate for six to 12 months in partnership with OSEG, with a targeted launch date of Sept. 1.

5M visitor target

Prospective businesses can submit their ideas at TDPlace.ca/pop-up-at-lansdowne-live from now until July 15.

Goudie said the storefronts could play a key role in helping OSEG reach its goal of drawing more than five million visitors a year to the 40-acre site, which is home to the TD Place stadium and arena complex. 

“I think the pop-up concept will help us meet that objective and also help some innovative small businesses get up and running with their concepts,” he said.

The announcement follows the CFL’s decision earlier this week to resume play in August after the 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

The Redblacks, who play out of 24,000-seat TD Place stadium, are slated to host the B.C. Lions in their home opener on Aug. 28. The provincial government says it’s still in the process of determining guidelines for in-person attendance at games.

Financial shortfalls

Football’s return is welcome news for OSEG, which has yet to see the expected financial returns it expected from Lansdowne Park and has taken a particular hit over the past year while the area’s two sports venues sat empty. 

Goudie told OBJ last November 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.

Last December, city council agreed to amend the organization’s 30-year partnership with the city, extending the agreement by another decade 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.”

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