Today is the deadline for an agreement on a new Ottawa Senators arena at the downtown LeBreton Flats site, but — spoilers! — it ain’t gonna happen:
The National Capital Commission announced Wednesday morning that mediation talks led by retired judge Warren Winkler couldn’t reach a settlement in a dispute among partners of RendezVous LeBreton, a consortium that has spent four years and more than $4 million in planning work.
To recap: Last fall Senators owner Eugene Melnyk sued his erstwhile development partners because he was upset they were also planning on building other development elsewhere; since then the two sides have been in mediation, with the deadline eventually extended until today. Those talks went nowhere, though, and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is hopping mad, or at least Canadian mad:
“I said earlier today one of the frustrations I think in this partnership was Eugene Melnyk (and) the very fact that during the NHL outdoor (game at TD Place in Ottawa in 2017), or just before that, was musing about not even going downtown,” said Watson, who also is a non-voting member of the NCC board.
“I was pretty livid with him back then. I said ‘Wait a minute. You’re putting a lot of time, effort and money into this process and you come out and just muse off the top of your head, ‘Well, I’m not interested in moving downtown.’
“The whole purpose was because you wanted to move the arena downtown because there’s no walk-up traffic in Kanata (home of the Senators’ current arena, the Canadian Tire Centre). You need that kind of walk-up traffic and transit connections to make the arena successful like all arenas in North America are in the downtown core.”
The next step for Melnyk is to do something else crazy and vindictive, I’m sure. When last seen, the Senators owner was (checks notes) offering to play in an arena if somebody else would pay to build it. Any volunteers, please raise your hand, though you may want to consider lawyering up first, as you’ll probably need it.