Welcome To The Trump Lansdowne Event Centre

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This and hockey, too.

 

How did Gatineau build a similar-sized and better arena complex than the Lansdowne event centre at one-third the price?

The cost? About $80 million in Gatineau. The event centre? Projected at $250 million (though in the last municipal election the figure $300 million was tossed about). Hey, what’s $50 million to the naive big-time spenders on the financial and politically challenged city council.

So why the enormous bill at Lansdowne? Do the plans call for gold-plated biffies a la The Donald? Will the City of Ottawa be obligated to insure Melania’s wardrobe closet? And after you spend $250 million on the Trump Lansdowne Taj Mahal, how much money do you have left for the world-class northside football stadium stands from $419 million? About $169 million? Or say $119 million (check the figures, I majored in spelling at university)? No wonder there isn’t a roof. Is the northside just temporary special-event seating? Do they take them down after the football season? Is it world-class special-event seating?


And if you listen closely, in the far-off distance and the no-so-far-off future, you can hear the chirp of the common cash call about halfway through rebuilding the northside. The shrill warbles go something like debt, debt, debt. Then interest, interest, interest. Then more taxes, more taxes, more taxes. Imagine a high-rent cardinal singing in the spring. Oh here’s another bird … the great Ottawa tax-sucker. Has quite the feathered nest.

A veritable aviary of financial missteps. And when have the bird-brains at city hall ever wasted billions of your dollars before? Let’s see … the little train that couldn’t? Oh good, Light-Rail Too, The Sequel. Grand ambitions … a tad wanting in the implementation. I wouldn’t trust these guys to run a lemonade stand and neither should you.

City Council Derails Important Lansdowne Meeting

But enough of this ornithology. Why is Gatineau’s Centre Slush Puppy (god bless ’em, what a name) better than the event centre at about one-third the cost. Well there’s the matter of ice pads. One for the major junior hockey Gatineau Olympiques and three others for the common folk. There’s the indoor sports house for winter soccer, ultimate and other such things. The restaurant. The physiotherapy centre. Just like the Slush Puppy. Lots of stuff, pretty cheap.

We have a slush puppy of another sort at the Trump event centre. There’s 5,500 seats (to the Gatineau puppy’s 4,000). It houses the major junior hockey 67’s. And there are event spaces.

But back to the 67’s. Why do they need their own arena? The Olympiques need an arena or they have no place to play. The 67’s? Well there’s a big rink in Kanata with not-a-few dark nights that the 67’s could fill. And that big honkin’ hockey rink is surrounded by good families who play hockey and like to be able to find a parking spot when the wind blows in January. That said, the team didn’t draw well out there in Kanata during a previous hiatus when Lansdowne The First was under construction.

But then Senators owner Michael Andlauer is a pretty entrepreneurial billionaire and no doubt he could find some synergies between the 67’s and his NHL team. You know buy two Sens tickets and get a 67’s ticket free. The only deal the 67’s at Lansdowne in the Glebe could swing is buy two 67’s tickets and get an opera ticket free. Glebinistas spend their evenings turning the pages of the New Yorker (or at least their help turns the pages for them). Furthermore, a number of Canadian major junior hockey teams play out of NHL arenas.

And more on the Trump event centre. Don’t we already have event centres like the magnificent Shaw Centre (which actually is world class, if there is such a silly expression and useful if you would prefer to hold your convention in Ottawa in February rather than Miami or Las Vegas) and the EY Centre.

Interestingly, old city hall reporters (me) might recall that the City of Ottawa, after much brow-furrowing, put up $50 million into the Shaw Centre with matching money from the federal and provincial governments. The Shaw Centre, an architectural wonder, cost $174 million or about $76 million (or more) less than the Lansdowne event centre.

That’s not all. While the Shaw Centre is operated by the Ontario government, the city, as a so-called partner in Lansdowne, would find itself at Lansdowne competing with a huge convention centre that the municipality helped fund. That might not be the best investment.

Millions of poorly answered or non-sensical statements have been uttered about Lansdowne from the proponents. Perhaps you could ask Kanata North Councillor Cathy Currie for some of these answers. You will get answers but not necessarily the right answers.

Or city manager Wendy Stephanson, former city financial chief, whose abacus appears to need recalibrating.

If you would like to know the right Lansdowne answers, go here. There you will find The Bulldog’s own Ron Benn, CPA (that does not mean certified pencil acrobat councillors Allan Hubley and Jeff Leiper), a finance executive at prominent Canadian firms, the leader of the Centrepointe Community Association since humans hunted for food with a club, and a marginal golfer. While his golfing is unlikely to affect his financial acumen (he has a MOD, master of divets), Benn has no affiliation that would cloud his Lansdowne judgment except a phobia for people misspending tax money.

And here’s a note for councillors and city staff. The reason people are so angry about Lansdowne is that it is a deal that makes no sense whatsoever and yet we keep hearing untruths justifying it. It’s getting Ottawans’ spidey senses up. Something along the lines of this is the worst financial deal they’ve ever heard since … light rail.

People at city hall should be aware that Lansdowne is a rocky deal and that at the end of rocky deals sometimes a provincial inquiry, something litigious or class-actionable, or even an auditor might show up.

In fact, given the history of the dumpster fire that is LRT, people in this community are getting some perturbed at how their tax dollars are being spent. And councillors, when they eventually cast their votes, should be very careful on which side of this issue they fall.

Remember that the provincial light-rail inquiry ended the careers of some of the most prominent people in this city.

Bulldog editor Ken Gray has been a journalist at five major Canadian newspapers over a career that has spanned four decades.

 

Digital illustration on front by AI generator Bing Image Creator.

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1 Response

  1. The Voter says:

    The light rail inquiry only ended the careers of people who got caught. And only some of those people – Councillor Hubley managed to get re-elected but that may have only been because the inquiry report only appeared after the election. The lesson learned, I’m afraid, may turn out to be not that the behaviour is to be avoided but that you must make sure that you aren’t caught.

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