Posted: Sep 12, 2008, 11:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Whoever had bets on kanata looks to be the winner.
Melnyk plans soccer stadium for Kanata
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, Sun Media
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk will officially kick off his campaign to bring Major League Soccer to Ottawa next week by unveiling plans for a new 20,000-plus-seat stadium in Kanata.
While the Senators will be reporting for training camp, Melnyk has called a news conference for Tuesday at Scotiabank Place, where he’ll show off his plans to bring an MLS expansion team to the city.
Included in the bid for the squad, that likely wouldn’t play here before 2011, is Melnyk’s plan to build a state-of-the-art soccer stadium, which sources say will be in Kanata in close proximity to Scotiabank Place on land he already owns.
According to the demands made by the MLS in its requirements for expansion teams, all soccer facilities must have 22,000 30,000 seats.
Since Melnyk has no choice but to meet that demand, the facility will be similar — but bigger than — the 20,000-seat BMO Field which houses the Toronto FC franchise, which is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
While the bid will be worth in excess of $40 million, there’s a lot of work to do before a franchise is awarded to Ottawa. Since Melnyk is willing to front the cash, there won't be any concerns about building the stadium.
The MLS — a 14-team league where many of the franchises are losing money — is looking to expand to 20 teams. Seattle has been granted a franchise for next year and Philadelphia will join the league in 2010.
Melnyk isn’t the only Canadian bidder in the hunt for a club. Vancouver and Montreal — both strong soccer venues in the past — have already made their interest known and will get strong consideration.
All three cities will be battling the U.S. bidders from Atlanta, Portland, Miami, Las Vegas and St. Louis. There’s also talk a group led by the owners of major league baseball’s Mets is trying to get a second MLS franchise in New York.
There have been suggestions the new stadium could also house the CFL expansion team that 67’s owner Jeff Hunt is fronting with a group of local real estate investors, including Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and William Shenkman.
Hunt is preparing to make an announcement of his own on plans for redevelopment of Lansdowne Park in the next couple of weeks. That bid is a little more complicated because it needs city backing before becoming reality.
“I don’t know anything more than anybody else,” Hunt said yesterday. “I’m waiting to hear what the announcement will be. Until we can fully grasp what (Melnyk’s) proposing, it’s difficult to make a comment.
“Obviously, Eugene believes Ottawa is a world-class sports city. He’s showing great confidence in the Ottawa sports market.”
Hunt said he has not talked to Melnyk about the bid.
“We have not had any meaningful discussions. We’re open to the MLS being here, of course. We’re proposing a world-class sports and entertainment venue. The more (the facility is used) the more successful the venture will be.
“Our group is moving forward with the process to revitalize Lansdowne. Our bid will be submitted in the coming weeks. I think people will be excited.”