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Email Hotstove: LeBreton Flats

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The Silver Seven staff tackle some questions on the LeBreton bids

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DCDLS has stated that if they are the winning bid, they would go to the Sens to negotiate a move and would be open to any set of terms that work for both sides. Do you think there is any chance Eugene Melnyk would be willing to go to the table? Any chance they could actually get a deal done?

Ross: If they win the bid, I think Melnyk would go to the table. I think there's a lot of posturing by him right now, because he wants the committee to consider that if his group doesn't win, the Sens don't move downtown. But Melnyk is smart enough to know that ruling out a downtown move forever would be a bad choice. Not to mention that it sounds like in the DCDLS bid, the NHL arena won't be functional for 15 years. I can't imagine Melnyk plans to own the Sens 15 years from now, and so maybe in 10 years this is the plan he needs to sell off his franchise.

Trevor: Melnyk has said all along that he won't sell the Sens under any circumstances, but I don't think you can just 100% agree with that. If the Senators don't get this land, then Melnyk knows that the organization won't be in a very good spot in the long haul. I think he is just extremely confident that he'll win the bid, so he thinks he'll never have to negotiate with DCDLS. If DCDLDS does win the bid, then I'd have to think Melnyk would at least begin talks with them about either leasing or selling. In the end, he has to do what's best for the organization, not himself.

Callum: I think Melnyk is playing hard to get right now with the over-the-top expressions of astonishment that someone is trying to butt in. In the end, everyone likes money, and millionaires love money even more, so maybe this is all a charade to get a better deal at the table.

Michaela: If the DCDLS bid wins, I think Melnyk would have to at least talk to them, and he knows that. He's saying what he needs to say at this point, to try and sway things in favour of the Sens' bid. But if they don't win, he'll have to at least look at either leasing or selling the team. It's in the best interest of the organization, and at the end of the day, his money.

Peter: If there is a brand new arena downtown, I think there is no chance the Senators remain in Kanata. They may stay in Kanata for a couple years, but eventually I think Melnyk (or his daughter) will work out a deal to play at the new arena or sell the team to the new arena's owners. I think his rhetoric about never selling the team or playing in someone else's arena are tactics to a) protect the advantage he has as the owner of the team, and b) ensure Ottawa is a seller's market for NHL teams.

It's also worth noting that the DCDLS bid might not even start the arena right away; they've said it could be incorporated into any of the three phases of their development. So it's at least five years away, but could take far longer than that.

B_T: I think he would definitely go to the table. As for getting a deal done, it might come down to a game of chicken. An arena without an anchor tenant is risky, and a competing downtown arena would steal most of the non-hockey bookings the CTC gets. No idea which side would blink first.

The issues surrounding the last question aside, which group's arena do you prefer?

Ross: Arena-wise, I like the Sens' bid more. The arena is central to their bid. The DCDLS bid plans to put an arena in during Phase 3, whenever that happens. Overall, I think DCDLS has the more complete bid, but the arena is almost an afterthought in everything they're planning.

Trevor: You have to like the Senators rink proposal better, for sure. Their rink proposal is already small at around 18,000, but the DCDLS rink looks like it doesn't have much of an upper deck, plus it won't be ready for an NHL team for 15 years. I love the outside of the Senators rink as well, it looks like a soccer stadium.

Callum: The DCDLS seems better. Melnyk's group seems like they don't have too much of a plan yet, they just want the opportunity to make one.

Michaela: I like the Sens' arena proposal a little better, as it will be more of the focal point of the area. The arena in the DCDLS bid seems like a bit of an afterthought, with many other components taking centre stage.

Peter: It's hard to say since actual designs can often stray from conceptual illustrations, but there are things I like about both arenas right now. The massive glass sides of the RendezVous group offer a very nice view outside and echo the design of the Shaw Centre very nicely (although I'm not sure where bathrooms and concessions would go), and the wooden interior bowl is a nice historical nod that ties in nicely with the design of TD Place. On the other hand, I also kind of like the 'submerged' arena that DCDLS is proposing, especially the direct connections to both nearby LRT stations (from what I understand, one connection from one level and the other from another level). But the Sens' group seems to have put more flesh on the bones of their arena design (for obvious reasons), so it's hard not to give theirs a slight advantage right now.

B_T: Overall I'd say I like the Rendez-Vous LeBreton arena more. There's not much to go on other than the concept art, but it's the one I prefer. I do like the LRT station being part of the arena in the DCDLS bid though.

Outside of the arenas, what's your favourite part of the bids?

Ross: I LOVE the waterfront idea of the Sens' bid. Waterfront is a key factor in taking almost any city from decent to great. There really isn't a lot of commercial property on water in Ottawa, and that would make their bid a huge draw for me at least.

Trevor: Obviously I'm not from Ottawa, so I don't have an as informed opinion on the other things in the bid besides the rink. But for both proposals, it looks like they're trying to build a real community there, which is great to see. Urban designing fascinates me, and it'll be cool to see in 20 years if either bid gets what they want in that area. So for a favourite thing I guess it would be the creation of a new neighbourhood (which isn't specific, I know).

Callum: The drama and theatre this is producing. It's nice to have a little back-and-forth in this museum-filled city.

Michaela: Ottawa has a reputation as a boring city, and aside from the arena, the Sens' bid does very little to help this. Although some of the cultural/historic aspects of their bid seem interesting, there is already so much of this around Ottawa. The DCDLS bid has so many things that other big cities already have (aquarium, planetarium, etc.) and could give the city some much needed "fun-for-the-sake-of-fun" elements. Honestly, both bids look pretty great, and I'm just looking forward to seeing something more than grass at Lebreton Flats.

Peter: There are parallels between Canadensis Walk in the Devcore bid and the Aquaduct in RendezVous' proposal, and I really like both of them. It looks to me like the Devcore bid has a lot more public and institutional space included (although it's an eclectic mix), which is great, and I also like that that space is closer to the river--in the RendezVous bid, it seems like the hotels and condos are closer to the river while the public spaces are, by and large, south of where the LRT will run. If the RendezVous proposal is selected, we'll have a dead zone on the riverfront, while DCDLS' plans would really invigorate that space (as long as there were ways to cross the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway). Overall, though, I'm still not sure which my far-and-away favourite bid is... need a bit more time to think on it.

B_T: Like Ian Mendes, I'm a sucker for an aquarium so I'll go with that.