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Ottawa MLS: Feds have NO money to build stadium


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No big pot of money for a new stadium, councillors told

By Patrick Dare , The Ottawa Citizen

February 25, 2009

OTTAWA — Any sports stadium project in Ottawa may have to compete against other municipal projects such as public transit for funding from the federal government, the city’s manager said Tuesday.

Kent Kirkpatrick told councillors that, contrary to what was initially believed, there’s no separate pot of money for large recreation projects such as building a professional sports stadium, whose price tag would easily top $100 million.

The federal government has a $500-million fund for municipal recreation facilities but it’s aimed at smaller projects, such as paying for a new arena ice surface.

Kirkpatrick said that he is working hard to get clarity from the federal government and get instructions on how to apply for financial assistance from other pots of funds. But he said it appears that any sports stadium project would be tossed in with the many other projects municipalities ask for help on, such as transit, road building, bridges and community centres.

Councillor Peter Hume, chairman of city council’s planning and environment committee, said he was surprised and disappointed by the news. He said it was “not a winning proposal” to tell citizens of Ottawa that they have to choose between building a new sports stadium and proceeding with the city’s new transit plan.

“This is a significant twist,” said Hume.

The planning committee was receiving an $81,000 report by the Corporate Research Group on the whole question of whether and where to build a new stadium. That report identifies 23 possible locations for a new stadium.

The city already has two unsolicited proposals from business groups for stadium projects. The group of developers behind one called "Lansdowne Live!" wants to redevelop the city’s 40-acre Lansdowne Park. Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk wants to see a stadium for Major League Soccer built beside Scotiabank Place, as part of a major package of retail, office and residential building in Kanata.

The Melnyk proposal is for the three levels of government to build the soccer stadium. The Lansdowne Live proposal does not require federal government funding but many city councillors believe the project can never proceed without help from the province and the federal government.

© Copyright © The Ottawa Citizen


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