Things are looking up for the Ottawa Senators.
There’s more hope for the future, both on and off the ice, than there has been in years, and the latest bit of good news is that the new arena at Lebreton Flats is actually going to happen.
It won’t happen soon - the timeline we have right now has construction starting in late 2024, and things have fallen apart before - but it looks like it’s happening.
When the decision was announced on Thursday, there was much celebration around the fanbase - and no small amount of speculation about what the arena might end up looking like. The partners the Sens have brought on for this bid have worked on arenas before, including Seattle’s new Climate Pledge Arena, which features lots of cool amenities. The fan suggestions I saw ranged from normal (better concessions) to absurd (one image released by the Senators pictured people in canoes and kayaks in the foreground, prompting some to joke that the arena would be accessible via the river).
While we ride this high of anticipation, I thought it would be relevant to ask: what would you like to see in this new arena?
Here are a few of the items on my wishlist, in no particular order.
The new arena is supposed to be very accessible by transit, and relatively close to both Carleton and the University of Ottawa. This means it’ll be way easier for students to make their way over to the arena to catch a Sens game a few times every semester. It would be great if the Sens could follow in the footsteps of other NHL teams by issuing student discounts for at least a few games during the season. It could be a great way for the Sens to reach out to a new audience and create a fun atmosphere at home games.
Make it accessible by bike
Okay, I know what you’re all thinking, but hear me out. Yes, it’s virtually impossible to bike in Ottawa during most of the NHL season. This would only be helpful during the pre-season, the very end of the regular season and (fingers crossed!) the playoffs.
But how amazing would it be if you could just bike to the arena during those times of the year? What about concerts in the summer? Give us a bike path leading to the arena, and lots of places where people can lock up their bikes, and it will be worth it just for that very brief period of time where fans can bike to the arena. After years of long bus rides and traffic jams on the highway, it would be such a welcome change of pace.
Lots of places to hang out after the game
Just being downtown already takes away some of the need for this, but it really will be nice to be able to spend more time in the arena, without the stress of needing to catch a 400-series bus or knowing that you have a long drive ahead of you. Going to games should be a fun, social activity. Give us a good atmosphere at the arena even when the game isn’t happening.
Keep the good seats
Say what you will about the Canadian Tire Centre, but there’s one good thing about it: there isn’t a bad seat in the house. No matter where you’re sitting, you’ll be able to see what’s happening on the ice and feel like a part of the crowd. That’s not a given in NHL arenas, and I hope the new arena has equally good sightlines.
A little bit of sens history
I’ve always liked walking past pictures of past Senators and old bits of Sens memorabilia at the Canadian Tire Centre. Sure, lots of those pictures are only up because the team hasn’t yet gotten around to swapping out the old player murals for images of players who actually play for this team, but it’s still nice, and I’d like to see more of that.
Maybe add some people to the ring of honour, too, and make sure there’s some kind of related display in the arena that fans can check out. The team is entering its 30th season, and sure there hasn’t been a lot to brag about, but they’ve had some good players and memorable moments. Make sure those are commemorated in the new arena.
Hot water in the taps
I’m mostly joking.