Published on September 2, 2009 9:02 PM by dbo.
The plan provides some unique aspects, such as turning 40% of the site from asphalt to green space and two docks on the Rideau canal for mooring (pending Parks Canada approval). Having a stadium surrounded by green space rather than the usual acres of asphalt will provide a throwback appeal to the site which will add to the experience of people visiting the park. Divided into two development phases, the overall cost of the project is pegged at $250 million, less than half will go to revitalizing Frank Clair Stadium.
The most important part of the plan is the fiscal responsibility of the plan for the city. Lansdowne gets turned back into a park, the existing stadium is re-purposed and the city’s costs do not exceed their 30-year maintenance costs on the existing park plus additional tax revenues and an equal share of revenues. It is impossible to believe that a municipality could arrange a better deal with a private developer anywhere in North America.
Criticisms of the plan are already being defended with the same old unfounded arguments. Put a new stadium at Bayview Yards. Not enough parking. Too much retail space. Costs too much. All of these criticisms are contradictory to each other. A new stadium at any other location, surrounded by parking lots, will cost much more than this project and not provide the vibrant surroundings for the stadium as this project. The retail space, which likely includes the existing buildings to be used for the Farmers’ Market and restaurants, is necessary for a 50% partnership with the developers. The city would be on their own to fund construction of a new stadium elsewhere as there would be no lease revenue stream for developers to get involved. In the end, this plan is the cheapest way to provide an outdoor stadium to Ottawa and revitalize the park, making it some place people go before and after events and other times as well.
Unfortunately, the discussions and delays have meant that Phase 1 of the project will not be completed until the spring of 2013, delaying the return of the CFL and the possible arrival of USL soccer to Ottawa. In the end, I believe this plan will create the best outdoor stadium experience in Canada.