Headline News By Joanne Chianello 137 Views

Mayor asks OSEG to keep teams in Ottawa another 10 years

Mayor Jim Watson wants a guarantee that the Ottawa Redblacks and 67's keep playing at Lansdowne Park's TD Place until 2032, according to an open letter he wrote to the business group that owns the teams.

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) runs the commercial sector at Lansdowne and owns some of the sports teams that play there. In its 30-year deal with the city, OSEG had promised to keep the teams at the stadium until 2022.

But last month, OSEG — which had been struggling to get enough foot traffic to Lansdowne and lost $11 million last year — said it needed help from the city, as the COVID-19 pandemic had decimated its revenue stream. The group has asked the city to extend the partnership for an additional 10 years to 2054, in order to give OSEG more time to recoup some of its losses.

After a nine-hour discussion on Nov. 13, members of the finance and economic development committee approved the changes to the partnership, but the contentious issue is set to go to full council next Wednesday. 

Among the many speakers at the meeting, representatives of the Glebe Community Association and other public delegates expressed concern about what would happen if the sports teams, which attracted thousands on game days in pre-COVID-19 times, no longer played at Lansdowne.

Watson's letter, which he wrote with Coun. Mathieu Fleury in his role as sports commissioner, asks for a response from OSEG by the Dec. 9 council meeting.