The Ottawa Senators just keep getting more tumultuous. This time around, it’s what’s going on over on the business side of things that’s making waves.
The problem is complicated.
The story pivots on the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats, a space near the Ottawa River, which was intended to include a new NHL arena for the Senators. A “disagreement” between partners in the Rendezvous LeBreton Group, the group responsible for the redevelopment process, is threatening to derail the whole shebang.
According to the Senators and the Trinity Group, the two aforementioned partners, the involved parties have “not been able to resolve their internal partnership issues.”
What this means is that the Rendezvous LeBreton Group was supposed to have formalized at least some part of the partnership by now and, well, they haven’t. They were given another week from their previous deadline to get the job done, but there’s still a holdup. The National Capital Commission has given the group until late January to get its act together.
If that doesn’t happen and the two sides keep having “internal partnership issues,” the deal is off and Ottawa will move on and away from the LeBreton development project as estimated. And that would mean that plans for the new Senators arena would go up in smoke with the whole deal.
The issues appear to hinge on the relationship between Trinity Group executive chairman Jim Ruddy and Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. Let’s just say that nobody’s surprised to see Melnyk’s name come up here.
“We’ve championed a downtown sports and entertainment arena and this important civic project, since initiating our proposal in 2014,” Melnyk said. “We continue to be committed to making our vision a reality.”
While Melnyk was always cited as being “very confident” in getting this LeBreton deal done, there have also been reverberations about things falling through a number of times. And with the state of the Senators off the ice, from locker room uproar to dubious roster moves, the picture in Ottawa is ugly.
Add this potential arena collapse to the picture and people are, rightly, starting to wonder about the future of this franchise.
The issue here is that most of those involved with the process don’t believe that the two parties will be able to get things together in time for January. Whatever problems lie between Melnyk and Ruddy and everyone else remain to be seen, if they’re indeed ever seen, but the larger issue at play is that this really does threaten the future of the club.
The possibility exists that the partnership could reform with other parties and that could recover something of the LeBreton project, but that doesn’t guarantee a space for the NHL team in the final arrangement.