The Ottawa Senators this spring taught us much about skill, perseverance, effort, teamwork and loyalty.
They provided playoff entertainment that was absolutely engrossing. Congratulations to the staff and management. And kudos to the Pittsburgh Penguins who showed all those qualities as well, plus a win.
Now the club’s biggest fight begins.
Attendance this year has been a problem. Numerous reasons have been brought to the fore about why this is happening and they won’t be repeated here. But add to those aging demographics, the expense of attending games for families and the advent of many different technologies to view the game outside the arena.
The biggest problem for the Senators financially, however, is arena location. Who wants to battle traffic from Aylmer and Orleans all the way to Kanata on a snowy icy night? When the club had empty seats in the playoffs, that tells you its financial problems are acute.
Building an arena at LeBreton Flats is critical to the survival of NHL hockey in Ottawa. The central location served by transit, Ottawa River bridges and roads makes the arena much more accessible than in Kanata. The new arena is not in the category of nice-to-have but must-have for the team to survive in this very small market.
And the Senators are important to the community to generate business, create civic pride and promote the city across North America and the world. You know that the word Ottawa was on the lips of many, many people this spring in New York, Boston and Pittsburgh.
Accordingly the community needs the National Capital Commission and the City of Ottawa to move forward at great speed to see that the LeBreton Flats arena is completed. This is especially difficult when one sees how Mayor Jim Watson botched the Double-A baseball bid and add to that the fact the City of Ottawa has a massive conflict of interest in partnering with private industry on Lansdowne Park. It is in the city’s pecuniary interest to see Lansdowne prosper and its chief competitor is Eugene Melnyk and the Ottawa Senators.
The city already has blunted the Toronto-based Melnyk (not a part of the Ottawa old-boys network like Watson) on bidding for a casino and creating a Major League Soccer franchise.
We hope that Watson can rise above his pronounced biases to expedite approvals at LeBreton for the Senators.
That would be a change for Watson given his bad sports moves and lack of knowledge of the industry.
The NCC wants LeBreton for the Senators and the public wants LeBreton for the Senators.
If LeBreton doesn’t work for the Senators, the blame can be placed squarely on Mayor Jim Watson. The approvals left are his.
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