GARRIOCH: It would make sense for Eugene Melnyk to bid on LeBreton again

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Sometimes silence can speak volumes.

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As the National Capital Commission’s deadline passed at noon Monday for Expressions of Interest (ROIs) for a major attraction at LeBreton Flats, the Ottawa Senators have neither confirmed nor denied that the owner Eugene Melnyk had taken over the process of building an ice rink just 10 minutes from downtown.

No one will dare to confirm this, but it wouldn’t be a shock if the Senators dipped their toes in the pool again for a rink at LeBreton Flats because if you don’t put your foot in the door for a downtown arena now, then it will be completely closed.

Keeping that option on the table makes sense for Melnyk.

“No comment,” was how Senators president of business operations Anthony LeBlanc responded to Postmedia on Monday afternoon.

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The NCC said it might not release the names of the bidders until after its board meeting in April, but Ottawa is a small city and it’s likely they’ll all be public by then.

“As the (REI) process is confidential, we will not be providing any information about proponents during the evaluation and negotiation period,” NCC spokesman Mario Tremblay said in an email Monday.

“At any time, the NCC reserves the right to announce one or more successful proponents for one or both major attraction sites, or initiate a subsequent procurement process such as requests for proposals.”

Fair enough. With much competition for valuable land and the NCC wanting secrecy, silence is probably the best course of action for any group involved in this process.

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“Proponents are not permitted to make any public announcements, comments or press releases, including creating content on social media, regarding the details of their submissions under the REI process,” CNC said in a statement. the fine print of his “Building LeBreton”. document. “Violation of this provision is grounds for disqualification, at the sole discretion of the NCC.”

Perhaps the NCC is keeping quiet because it didn’t like that its agreement with the RendezVous LeBreton group went off the rails completely and publicly, in front of everyone.

While many doubt the Senators will return to this route after it deteriorated and ended in lawsuits with partner John Ruddy of Trinity Developments last time out, this latest negotiation is a phased approach to building on the site.

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In this round, the NCC is looking for ideas on approximately 6.3 acres of land.

It’s big enough to hold a shiny new ice rink with maybe a few restaurants nearby where you can grab a post-game pint before taking the LRT back home, as long as it’s working properly, of course.

The Canadian Tire Center opened in January 1996 and, although improvements have been made, it is showing its age.

Of course, you might think that senators might be once bitten and twice shy. But the description of possible options for the land that NCC general manager Tobi Nussbaum included in the letter he wrote, and which was attached to the REI, could just as well have been a personal invitation to Melnyk to make an offer.

“What does a major attraction look like? Some people think of a gym, some people think of a concert hall, some exhibition space and some have other ideas,” Nussbaum said.

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“We leave the canvas blank so that creative minds can suggest innovative and financially sound concepts that might capture our interest.”

The canvas may be blank, but I have a feeling they would gladly paint the lines on the rink for Melnyk if he decided he wanted to bring his Senators downtown. Not only that, it would be a great concert hall that would attract more great artists to the nation’s capital.

As we’ve said before, it makes sense for the NCC to have the Senators as its centerpiece in LeBreton. That makes it a destination and if you want a good example of how an ice rink revitalized downtown, all you have to do is look at the ICE District in Edmonton which is home to Rogers Place Arena.

The last time a major events center was part of LeBreton’s discussions was when the Senators and Trinity Developments were granted preferred status to build a new arena and mixed-use development on the site. The falling out between the two companies sent the NCC back to the drawing board – and that was over two years ago.

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Melnyk and Ruddy could not come to a final agreement on the deal at LeBreton and the partnership fell apart. Melnyk’s Capital Sports Management Inc. sued Ruddy for $700 million, then Trinity counter-sued for $1 billion. This case is expected to be brought to court at the end of 2022.

We’ve heard suggestions of maybe putting a Ferris wheel, an aquarium, a museum or a gallery on the site. Let’s face it, you’re not going to break the bank with visitors to these attractions.

The idea of ​​a downtown ice rink seemed almost dead, that is, until Melnyk opened the door again in December when he sent this statement to Postmedia after the NCC confirmed that she resumed the process.

“We are always open and interested in a new multi-purpose entertainment facility at LeBreton Flats,” Melnyk said. “And let’s understand how this can benefit our fans and the Ottawa Senators hockey club in general.”

We understand Melnyk and the Senators can’t say anything, but we’re willing to bet the club is back in the game. Only time will tell.

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Twitter: @sungarrioch

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