Where Could the Next Arena Be?
The CTC has a few years left in it yet, but the NCC triggered more fan dreaming last week
The news came out last week that the NCC is looking to create a "signature development" on LeBreton Flats. That has long been a dream location for an arena for Senators fans - in fact, it is a dream that has been around longer than the team has been. So, unsurprisingly, the NCC announcement was met with a swift response on social media with people suggesting a new NHL arena on the site.
The Senators released a statement on the topic, "We are aware that the LeBreton Flats site is large enough to accommodate a downtown professional sports arena. Before giving this serious consideration, Senators Sports & Entertainment would need to explore whether this concept is something that the people of Ottawa would desire and support."
It doesn't sound like they're very warm to the idea. But then, they're not the only ones. Frankly, I agree. As nice as it would be to have an arena on the Flats the timeframe doesn't make much sense, and the other options being discussed for LeBreton are either things Ottawa doesn't have or are things that have a more urgent need to find a new home than the still-functional CTC.
Still, CTC is reaching the age where it's a good idea to start the long term planning for a new barn and dreaming about where it could go. but if not LeBreton Flats, then where else could it go? I limited myself to the following restrictions:
No LeBreton or Bayview
It doesn't have to be downtown, just inside the greenbelt
Has space occupied by a building that will need to come down anyways or space that is unused
Here are the three best spots I came up with.
1867 St. Laurent
In what could eventually turn out to be a "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!" moment for LeBreton, the day after the NCC news came the news that the Canada Science and Technology Museum has been closed indefinitely while they deal with mould in their "temporary" 47-year location.
If they do somehow find the funding to build a new location at LeBreton, that would (in theory) open up their current site at St. Laurent and Lancaster. Their main building has about the same footprint as CTC, and while the rest of the grounds don't provide the same sprawl as the CTC parking lots they are big enough for several thousand parking spaces.
Sure, it's not downtown, but it's a whole lot closer to it than the Kanata-Stittsville border. It's not ideal for access, but it's not that bad either. There are three separate highway interchanges within 3km of the site that would send people in different directions, and game day bus service could provide a quick connection to the Confederation Line LRT station at St. Laurent or even Tremblay. The area around there is no Byward Market or Elgin Street in terms of entertainment options - but the fact that there actually are entertainment options within walking distance is a huge improvement.
A catch could be the nearby residential. While it would be immediately surrouned by commercial, industrial and office space, the low rise offices on Lancaster provide only a thin buffer between a new arena and the Sheffield Glen community. The residential stretch of Smyth Road between St. Laurent and the Ottawa General Hospital would probably also see a big increase in traffic on event nights.
This is the current site of the Ottawa Baseball Stadium, home of the Ottawa Lynx Rapidz Voyageurs Fat Cats dust bunnies the size of bears Champions.
The stadium itself opened in 1993, putting it a few years older (and a few years closer to end-of-life) than the CTC which is an indication that replacement timelines could work out nicely. The footprint of the stadium is about the same as CTC, but space parking would be significantly reduced. The good news is that the site is walking distance to both the future Tremblay stop on the Confederation Line which should significantly cut down on the need for parking, and from the VIA station for fans coming to games from outside of the area.
Downsides? Not much in the way of entertainment nearby - certainly none within walking distance, unless you count the food section in Canadian Tire. It also butts up against the Overbrook community. They wouldn't quite be immediate neighbors, but it would be very close. Then there's the matter of the 10 year lease the city signed with the Can-Am baseball league - but that assumes they find a way to make the new team last that long.
101 Colonel By
Currently the main site of NDHQ, it is due to be vacant after DND finishes relocating to the former Nortel campus on Carling - a process scheduled to start late next year. The building is pretty widely expected to be demolished and replaced by... well, something.
Never mind LeBreton Flats. This, ladies and gentlemen, is probably the holy grail of dream arena locations in Ottawa. Public transit? Walking distance from two of the Confederation Line stations. Entertainment? Walking distance from the Byward Market and from Elgin. Hotels? Lots of them. Shopping? Rideau Centre is right across the street. From some areas of the city you could skate to the game! And for once the NCC could be a help - they would have to sign off on the look of it (at least the side facing the canal), so we wouldn't end up with a bland exterior.
All is not perfect though. The site is big enough for the building, but that's about it. The only onsite parking would likely be the loading docks and someplace for the zambonis. Definitely no public parking. It's either transit, or parking elsewhere downtown and walking.
The other problem? Assuming the government is willing to part with that land (or even lease it), it's going to be expensive and probably a bidding war. While such a location would bring the opportunity for extra earnings, those may be outweighed by the extra cost of acquiring it and may also be more limited compared to what other potential buyers could do.
I'm sure there are other locations around the city that could work as well, so let's hear about them in the comments.