After the Karlsson visit, Ottawa Senators fans were once again reminded of how much damage Melnyk has done to this team and now the city. With all the negativity surrounding the LeBreton flats project, it was very understandable that fans would get excited at the possibility of a quick revival of the project. Around 9 PM last night, construction company DevCore announced via Globe Newswire that they are ready to start construction on LeBreton flats immediately if things were to fall apart with the RendezVous Group. While this is excellent news for the city, Sens fans were excited over this quote in particular:
With respect to hockey, the National Winter Sport of Canada, we will still include a portion of land adjacent to the LRT station reserved for the exclusive construction of an NHL arena. We do not believe Ottawa or Canada should be held hostage one day longer,” - Jean- Pierre Poulin, President of DevCore Group.
It is evident that DevCore is entering the scene well prepared with all the tools to convince the city, Sens fans and even the league that they could save this project. The timing of the announcement seems to be well-planned corresponding with NHL BoG meeting this week to approve the new Seattle franchise. I can only imagine Melnyk and the Senators will be a hot topic among the owners as well.
The question on everyone’s mind is DevCore’s ability to buy the Sens or whether their interest is solely focused on the land redevelopment. When asked about a team purchase by TSN, their response was direct and straightforward: as an entity, they would need to be backed up by a billionaire for such an investment. While they left us hanging with this response, they also made sure not to deny the possibility; we can only hope this is a sign for more significant things to come. Their initial bid included the support of Quebec billionaires André Desmarais and Guy Laliberté as well as the Mierins family; one would hope any of them still has interest and is willing to invest in the Ottawa Senators. Poulin also stated that his current plans require no public funding which is probably his way of assuring Jim Watson there wouldn’t be a political headache behind his bid.
It should be noted that in 2016, DevCore alongside their partners had a keen interest in buying the Ottawa Senators from Eugene Melnyk if they were to win the LeBreton bid but they lost the bid to RendezVous. DevCore having the means to re-start this project immediately is a golden opportunity for the City as nobody wants to see the LeBreton bid process start from scratch when there’s a party with the financial resources and expertise to take over right away.
It is too early to get excited over this news, but it’s a step in the right direction. Whether it includes the purchase of the Sens or not, a LeBreton quick revival is good for the city in general. As of now, the NCC has not responded to DevCore’s request to meet and discuss their potential comeback. Their initial bid is entirely off the table as per the current process, but it will be interesting to see what kind of treatment the new DevCore’s bid will get from the NCC.
A few interesting notes from the Poulin TSN interview:
- Poulin was brilliant when addressing the Sens purchase question, making it a priority to show Melnyk in a somewhat positive light mentioning that he came to Ottawa and saved the team from bankruptcy.
- Another critical factor was focusing on including the Gatineau fan base and highlighting the apparent fact that an arena in LeBreton flats would probably increase season tickets from the Quebec side. Bettman, look more revenue!
- Poulin placed much importance on his priority to bring a world-class facility to the City of Ottawa, that as Canadians we deserve this project to come to life sooner than later. This will appeal to the general public, even those who have zero interest in the Ottawa Senators.
- “It never stops, but it has to start” - well said by an excited Jean-Pierre Poulin./