Ottawa gets new CFL team! Cost: $196m and public land

The Ottawa city council has finally voted to approve the Frank Clair Stadium reconstruction plan that has been kicking around in litigation for more than two years, and got its reward: The CFL announced that it plans to give Ottawa an expansion team starting in 2014, bringing football back to Canada’s capital for the first time since 2006, when the Renegades folded thanks to massive disinterest.

The estimated public cost is currently at $196 million, plus the use of public parkland for the housing and retail that developer Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group is insisting on getting to build if it’s going to redo the stadium. With public money. But at least it’ll have lots of computer-generated trees, ghostly skyscrapers, and lite jazz!

Ottawa park design to be full of generic storefonts, computer-rendered people

If you’ve been staying up nights wondering what Ottawa’s redesigned Lansdowne Park would look like, well, wait no longer: You now have a selection of generic-looking renderings of various elements of the park to choose from. The revamped Frank Clair Stadium looks a bit freaky, merging an older structure on one side of the field with a modern one on the other, but at least now it’s clear what that “cedar veil” wall will look like. (Pretty much a curvy wall. Made of cedar.)

While most of the media ooh and aah over the pretty pictures, the controversy remains whether spending $129 million and turning over a chunk of a public park rent-free to a mall developer is worth it in order to “revitalize” a downtown public space. “The issue becomes what is good use of public land,” Michael Tiger of Friends of Lansdowne Park told CTV. “Should public land be given to four developers at no cost free over 30 years to build a shopping complex?” (The main shopping outlet is amusingly called “Pure Foods” in the renderings, but you can guess who it really is.)

The deal is expected to be voted on by the Ottawa city council on June 28, and then immediately proceed to a pitched court battle.

Ottawa stadium fight: Architectural models vs. YouTube videos!

Ottawa is headed toward a June 23 city council vote on whether to build a new football-and-soccer stadium as part of an overhaul of Lansdowne Park, and now it has a design for the new park, which includes lots of cedar and “laminar space.” Architect Rob Claiborne says he can do this while coming in under the stadium’s $85 million budget, which sounds crazy cheap by U.S. stadium standards, but they do do things different up in Canada.

The whole park project is budgeted at $129 million, but that’s still drawn criticism that it’s too much public money to benefit a private team. (The team itself would likely be an as-yet-unnamed expansion team, as Ottawa has been without a CFL team since the Renegades folded in 2006.) Carleton University professor Ian Lee even has a YouTube video out making the case against it, complete with jump cuts and focus shifts and all the other gimmicks the kids today love. (Sadly, though, no Kimya Dawson soundtrack.)