Finding the Ottawa Senators a New Home

With doubt being cast on the Senators future at LeBreton Flats, what other options are there?

Finding the Ottawa Senators a New Home
A rendering of what the LeBreton arena may look like, by Capital Sports Development Inc.

With the sale process slowly progressing, recent talk has turned to the possibility of the new ownership not proceeding with a new arena at LeBreton Flats, but rather a new building somewhere else in the city limits. We've heard the suggestion from the Mayor, from Gary Bettman, and a whole list of NHL reporters.

The two reasons that keep coming up are: a general sentiment of "keeping their options open" (okay, sure), and the plot of land involved in the current LeBreton deal being a bit on the small side with only room for the arena and not much more. You can see the comparison below, with the section of LeBreton that is currently part of the deal almost completely covered by the footprint of the current arena.

LeBreton Flats with the current footprints of the Canadian Tire Centre (red) and parking lot (blue) overlaid. The current space offered by the NCC is outlined in black.

While LeBreton does remain the best option and should take something significant to fall through, there are a number of other locations that have been mentioned recently or in the past.


If LeBreton itself does fall through, how about some sites that are almost the same thing? The other nearby options aren't as good as LeBreton itself, but they do come close in many ways.

City Centre

How about just going kitty-corner?

City Centre is a site that was investigated back when the LeBreton option was first put on the table, and it could still be an option. The site is home to a building that reportedly once avoided demolition because nobody wanted it. The big downside of it is the same as the current LeBreton plot: it is about the same size, and once you put an arena on that site, you don't have a whole lot of room left over for much else. In general, there's no real gain either; everything else about is either equal or just slightly worse than sticking with the NCC property. But if LeBreton does fall through, it's a near-match.

This is an old suggestion, apparently looked at back at the start of the LeBreton process so there's the possibility they were looking at the slice at 900 Albert in addition to the City Centre building. If that address sounds familiar, it played a role in the downfall of RendezVous LeBreton.


Go just a bit further west, and you've got the city-owned Bayview Yards. This space is currently used as a snow dump during the winter, which means it may require even more soil remediation than what is expected for the LeBreton site. Trading LeBreton for Bayview loses some convenience points, one LRT station instead of two, and you move further away from what passes for a north-south corridor for car traffic. In return you get more space, which would certainly be welcome, and a bit better access to the Parkway.

Of the two near-LeBreton options this one seems more appealing than City Centre, but it would still be a little isolated from the redeveloped Flats.

The Rideau River Cluster

There are a number of suggested options near where the 417 meets the Rideau River. They're not quite central, but they are much closer to the city's core than Palladium Drive.


Why not swap one sports venue for another?

RCGT Park is the current home of the Ottawa Lynx Rapidz Voyageurs Fat Cats dust bunnies the size of bears Champions Titans. The city-owned property is currently earmarked for future use for low-income housing once the building does reach end of life, though that isn't set in stone and could be changed under a new Mayor and Council.

Tremblay LRT station is within walking distance - not right on top of it, but closer than the far end of the current parking lot is. The 417 is nearby, but Coventry Road might need some work to handle game-day volume. Out-of-towners could take the train in and out for the game with the VIA station nearby.

The problems with this location haven't changed much in the past eight-plus years that this discussion has been going on, though. The site would have relatively limited parking for a less-central location, there is not much in the way of entertainment nearby and no real room to build up surrounding businesses unless you further cut down on the parking, and the Overbrook community is right there.


Right across the street from RCGT Park, it has a bit better car access while being a bit further from transit, and there's (much) more space. It looks like a much better option than the ballpark, but pump the brakes for a moment.

The first big problem is that it's still in use. The plan does still seem to be for the RCMP to vacate it completely at some point but there doesn't appear to be any timeline on that, which brings its availability into question. It's starting to feel a bit like 101 Colonel By (NDHQ) that way, with DND having changed their plans and no longer completely moving out.

The second big problem is that the main building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building - a designation that would make it much more difficult to redevelop the site in a way that the team would want.

Not impossible, but probably the most difficult location to make use of on the list.


During an interview on TSN1200, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe listed off space near Hurdman Station as a possible alternative location. The above is a bit of guesswork on my part as to exactly what space he's talking about there, but I'm assuming the fully open space rather than one of the tree-covered areas.

If we're talking about transit-oriented, this spot may be even better than LeBreton (though only by a minute or two of walking). Plenty of space to put the arena, and parking, and some other on-site options.

The only road access is Riverside Drive, though, which is actually a step down from LeBreton. While it is closer to the 417, most of the traffic would be cramming on to the two northbound lanes. Also like the other options on this list, it is mostly on-site-or-bust for pre and post game entertainment with no other planned nearby development.

Robinson Ave

The first place I've seen this suggestion floated was in an article by Ian Mendes back at the start of December. According to Ian, this is a location that multiple real estate experts have pointed at.

The space between Robinson and Lees seems like a bit of a tight fit for an arena, but on the other side of Lees near the Sandy Hill Arena might work better if it is also available. The Lees LRT station is a short walk away.

The 417 is right there too, but that's a little bit deceptive. It would provide quick access to get to the arena for anyone coming from the east end, but traffic coming from the west would all be cramming on to the two-lane Lees for a 1km stretch, and getting on to the highway in either direction from there is far from smooth. Like with RCGT Park, it would be pushing right up against residential neighbours as well.


Tremblay @ St. Laurent

As far as I know this one is an original suggestion and to be perfectly honest, I'm not even sure what this property is so it may well be a non-starter.

It is large and undeveloped, and also fenced off with "no trespassing" signs. The signs closer to St. Laurent look like they have Government of Canada branding, at least based on Google Street View.

It certainly has points for accessibility, right beside the highway and right across from the St. Laurent LRT stop (though a pedestrian bridge might be necessary to really make that work). The downside is that it is mostly surrounded by light industrial, with a bit of residential to the west side and the nearby entertainment options aren't any better than they are in Kanata.


A perfect fit!

The current site is absolutely the least desirable location on the list, but also by far the easiest to build a new arena on.

It would be a good opportunity to bring things a little closer to the original vision for the site, with a bit more on-site for pre-and-post game entertainment options. A mini entertainment district at the corner of the site closest to the Huntmar overpass could draw business from traffic to Tangers on non-game days in a way that in-arena options can't, while providing much-needed pre and post game convenience. Phase 3 LRT isn't expected anytime soon (sometime in the early 2030s, plus the inevitable mutli-year delay), but the current plan for it has a stop along Huntmar somewhere between the 417 and Palladium.

Staying put would certainly be big a disappointment for the majority of the fan base, but it absolutely fits the definition of "can make it work" that's been bandied about recently.

LeBreton Flats is Still Best

All of this was a long-winded way to say that while there are other options that could work, in the end, LeBreton Flats is still the best option on the table, with the arena acting as the centrepiece to larger redevelopment project. It is believed that the NCC is open to the possibility of expanding the footprint, possibly to almost three times the size. That would have to be negotiated by whoever the new owners are, though.

As this article makes clear, there is the very real possibility that much of the recent talk is just setting the table for that negotiation. "LeBreton or bust" is not, after all, a very good position from which to begin your negotiations.

Not everyone can afford to pay for sports coverage right now, and that is why we will keep as much of the site's content free for as long as we can.

But if you are able to, please consider subscribing to help keep our articles free (and get a few extra perks).

Erik Condra
  • Ability to comment and participate in our community
  • Twice monthly newsletter available only to subscribers
  • Ad-free reading
  • Our undying love and appreciation
Brady Tkachuk
  • Everything from the Erik Condra tier
  • 10% discount on all merch
  • Access to any future paywalled content
  • A personal thank-you from the Silver Seven staff
Daniel Alfredsson
  • Everything from the Brady Tkachuk tier
  • Inner peace knowing you are supporting quality, independent coverage of your favourite sports team