OTTAWA – Senators Sports & Entertainment owner Eugene Melnyk made the following statement today on the City of Ottawa Committee of Council stadium vote:Our Proposal - Forward Looking
“When I bought the Senators in 2003, I made a decision that this was the city I would call my heart’s home in Canada. I have spent a lot of valued time here, our organization has supported many great causes and we have brought world-class events to the city. This is the city in which I would like to focus my economic development and investment plans for years to come. I was looking forward into the future back in 2003, and our proposal for a Major League Soccer franchise and new open-air stadium is a forward-looking proposal now.
I made a decision last year to secure a MLS team for the city. This would include building a soccer-specific stadium on a vacant parcel of City-owned land next to Scotiabank Place to house the team and also give back to the community of more than 90,000 soccer players and countless fans in Ottawa.
Making this new stadium and sports team a success would include a significant personal investment of $65 million – as well as support from the City and other levels of government. I don’t make investment decisions lightly. Over the past year, my team has exhaustively reviewed the business model for the soccer franchise and stadium in Kanata and I am completely convinced it is a superior investment from both a business and fan-base perspective, and also from the City’s perspective.
I am confident in the proposal and will still stand behind it as we wait for Ottawa City Council to vote tomorrow. The city has proposed a new motion for Wednesday, offering less than what is required to make the Kanata stadium viable. I respect the attempt by Council to find another solution. There are many aspects of our proposal that can and could be negotiated. However, the Motion as proposed is void of any support of Council that most certainly would be required to be successful with the other levels of government and with Major League Soccer. We are confirming to Council that this motion is not workable and, in our view, has no chance of success.
We will respect whatever decision the City Council comes to on Wednesday, but want to reiterate that we believe our proposal is forward looking, provides a solution for both Lansdowne and a new stadium in Kanata, and is the most cost-effective proposal for the city and its taxpayers.
Over the past two weeks we talked about a number of compromise proposals – one such proposal was to simultaneously combine a Canadian Football League and MLS franchise in the same stadium in Kanata. On the surface, it seemed like a great idea – the best of both worlds – and may have avoided the stadium debate that has since ensued.
We thoroughly reviewed the business case and logistics of fielding a successful CFL franchise and MLS franchise at the same time in Kanata – and to be frank, it just didn’t add up.
Times are uncertain now – teams’ owners around the world are being forced to sell prized assets – and although I love calculated risks, the combined CFL and MLS franchise model just didn’t work. After careful thought, I declined the opportunity to put both teams in the same stadium. The risk was too high – and I was not prepared to put the stability of the whole organization on the line for a last-minute deal – however tempting it was.
I love Ottawa and I love our Sens fans. I respect the emotional and financial commitment they make to come and attend Ottawa Senators games and support our team. I also respect the work that City Council must do and share the view that priorities must be chosen for the betterment of the community. I still firmly believe the Kanata stadium should be THE priority. I’ve appeared in front of council several weeks ago and made the case personally. But if tomorrow City Council determines that stadium and land development at Lansdowne Park is the preferred priority, then I’ve always been a team player and will respect that decision.”