Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ottawa Senators: Soccer Edition

In his efforts to build a world-renowned sports empire to rival Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment, Sens owner Eugene Melnyk announced today his plans today to bid for a Major League of Soccer franchise for Ottawa. (It would complement his ownership of the Sens and the OHL's St. Michael's Majors). It may not be at the forefront of the minds of Sens Army, but it's pretty cool news.

The plans of the stadium are something else. The idea is to piggyback the 30,000-seat stadium onto the infrastructure that already serves the Senators, including the Queensway exit at Palladium (that is actually pretty far from where the stadium would be) as well as the parking lots (which barely serve the 20,000 Senators fans). As a resident of Kanata I like the location of the stadium, but that doesn't mean everyone will. Least of all city planners, who will have a wrench thrown in their transportation master plans for the future.

The stadium looks really impressive, though. It would, by MLS requirement, be a soccer-specific stadium, so the prospects are slim that any future CFL franchise would play there, too (although Melnyk didn't rule out the possibility). It would be across Palladium Drive to the east of the Scotiabank Place, and you can see a site map and other images here. The outdoor field appears to have seating along three sides, and a concert stage area at the other end--probably a great venue for post-game or independent summertime concerts (he just wants to bring the Eagles back). There would be a few outdoor soccer pitches beside it (to the east), and then beside them is the Bell SensPlex, a public-private partnership also owned by Melnyk's Senators Sports and Entertainment (are you seeing a trend here?).

Anyway, I think the idea is pretty cool. I'll let him figure out whether it's a shrewd business move, but he's done pretty well with the Senators so far, so I'd be willing to give Melnyk the benefit of the doubt.
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