Ottawa Senators owner Michael Andlauer says his “gut feel” is a new arena in downtown Ottawa is the right thing for the city and the franchise, and believes there is “alignment” with fans and politicians on the idea.
“Now it’s just a matter of working collaboratively and doing what’s right,” Andlauer said on Thursday morning, during an appearance at the Mayor’s Breakfast with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.
“For me, that’s all I’m going to focus on – what is right, what’s right for fans and everything will fall in place.”
It’s been four weeks since the NHL Board of Governors formally approved Andlauer and his group purchasing the Senators and Canadian Tire Centre.
During the ‘fireside chat’ at the Mayor’s Breakfast, Sutcliffe said there is an “opportunity” for the city and the Senators to discuss a potential new NHL arena for the future, and asked Andlauer for his thoughts on a new arena.
“For me, it’s about the fans; it’s what the fans want,” Andlauer said. “Obviously, that’s the engine that drives our team so it’s important to listen to the fans. It just so happens our fans live in Ottawa-Gatineau area and they’re also taxpayers.”
Andlauer told the Mayor’s Breakfast that he had dinner at an Elgin Street restaurant after the Senators afternoon game at Canadian Tire Centre last Saturday.
“It was nice, it was vibrant, it was great,” Andlauer said. “My server was from Gatineau….I asked him about Saturday night when there’s a game in Kanata and he says it’s not quite as busy, not quite as vibrant in Ottawa. Obviously, you’ve got 16,000-18,000 people in Kanata at the game and the downtown’s not happening as much.
“It’s interesting to look at, from an economic standpoint, what it means. I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but it seems that people want the arena downtown – that’s the initial feedback that I have.”
A new arena for the Ottawa Senators closer to downtown Ottawa has been discussed for years. In 2022, the Senators signed a memorandium of understanding with the National Capital Commission towards the development of a major event centre at LeBreton Flats. Over the summer, Sutcliffe floated several other locations for a new arena between Bayview Yards and the Ottawa Baseball Stadium on Coventry Road, and even suggested a possible location may open up in the downtown core as the federal government sells off buildings.
Andlauer has previously said a new arena may cost $900 million.
“Certainly, the NCC is desires of it for the LeBreton lands. My gut feel says it is the right thing; our fans seem to feel that way as well,” Andlauer said, adding he has spoken with Mayor Sutcliffe about a potential new arena. “There’s alignment, now it’s just a matter of working collaboratively and doing what’s right. For me, that’s all I’m going to focus on is what is right, what’s right for fans and everything will fall in place.”
Andlauer adds, “I get a feel there’s no opposition. There doesn’t seem to be that pushback, so let’s work collaboratively.”
Andlauer told the Mayor’s Breakfast the reception he and his family have received from the city of Ottawa and fans has been “unbelievable.”
“I didn’t anticipate how grass rooted the passion for this team is which is bonus for me. It wasn’t in any of the financial….the passion is there, I can feel it,” Andlauer said. “The outpouring of the warmth. The thing is about this city is I walk around and talk to people and I feel the authenticity.”
Andlauer has been shown on television during Senators games taking pictures and speaking with fans. Andlauer one fan said to him, “Hey Mr. Andlauer, you should be mayor of the city.”
“We could trade places if you want,” Sutcliffe joked.
“When we lose three games in a row we will,” Andlauer said.
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