Whither Bayview?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ottawa City Council yesterday voted in favour of further exploring a deal to redevelop Lansdowne Park around a new Canadian Football League Franchise, beating out Senators Sports and Entertainment’s bid for a soccer stadium in Kanata. If you read this blog regularly, then I’m sure you know that I’m all in favour of major developments like this being built downtown, but the more I think about it the more I have to question whether or not the City made the right decision.

It’s not that I think a Kanata stadium would be better—far from it—but rather I’m concerned that a third option was not analyzed as much as it should have been: Bayview. The idea of a stadium at Bayview first came up a couple months ago, when the City released it’s survey of potential stadium sites, which wound up ranking the area, located between Tunney’s Pasture and Lebreton Flats, first overall.

And the more I think about it, the more I feel that a stadium at Bayview would be much better overall for the city. First of all, it’s got location. Sure, Lansdowne is right in the middle of the city, but it’s not easily accessible. Short of running light rail down Bank Street (a pipe dream at best), it’s not serviced by rapid transit, and it is only connected to the 417 by two narrow and easily congested roadways. Bayview, on the other hand, will be located right at the transfer station between our future east-west and north-south light rail lines, and can take in road traffic off the Ottawa River Parkway. And as a bonus, Bayview also offers the chance to construct a stadium with stunning views of downtown Ottawa and the Ottawa River—perhaps not the most important factor, but these things never hurt.

Secondly, I think that we’re slowly coming towards an unavoidable truth: Ottawa needs a new stadium, not to rebuild an old one. Frank Clair Stadium is, for all intents and purposes, falling apart at the seams. I was there a number of times in the fall to cover Gee-Gees games, and it was obvious that there was very little worth salvaging there. You can slap however many new coats of paint on it you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s an old, creaky concrete monstrosity with few of the creature comforts people expect from modern stadiums. And in the Citizen article I linked to at the beginning of this post, you’ll note that even with the proposed upgrades, there’s only an estimated 28 years of life left in Frank Clair… is that worth $100 million?

Given all this, I think the choice is clear. Bayview is the best place for a stadium, and because we’ll probably end up needing a new one anyway, we might as well build it in the best possible location. It’s not like anyone will miss a dumping ground for snow removal, anyway.

7 Responses to “Whither Bayview?”

  1. April 23, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    As you know, I’m a big fan of Bayview as the location for a stadium, but I think there are more important things involved that put redevelopment of Lansdowne at the top of the list. It is the city’s oldest park, and is a large area. That’s a big deal. What SHOULD happen if they are going ahead with it, is the destruction of Frank Clair and the construction of a brand new stadium, because you’re right that people expect modern stadiums. New is better than refurbished [screw the environment lol]. Another big thing they’re looking at is that Lansdowne is right next to a World Heritage Site. People expect the canal and the area around it to be beautiful. They do not want to look at Frank Clair haha.

    So for now, I feel that improving upon a rundown area is a better idea than developing on untouched land. That would use up more land and still leave the rundown Lansdowne. Save Bayview as a great place to build on in the future.

    • 2 David McClelland
      April 23, 2009 at 7:21 pm

      Personally, I think that if they went ahead with a Bayview stadium, Lansdowne should be redeveloped into a proper park, showcasing the history of the area and with space for public markets and such. It is definitely true, though, that no matter what happens, something needs to be done to fix Lansdowne.

  2. April 23, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    25-30 years seems like a good lifetime extension to get out of a facility that’s already seen nearly half a century of service to me. Meanwhile, do get on with designing a successor to be built on the Lansdowne site in anticipation of that “end of life cycle” date, and throw in plans to extend light rail either on or under Bank Street. Or both, in my fantasy scenario.

    As for Bayview…well, we’re going to do away with the Corel Centre someday…

  3. April 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    it would be WONDERFUL to be able to develop both, but the city will be shelling out a LOT of money do develop ONE area, so to develop two at once would be a monumental disaster. hell, develop neither and give me a friggin’ downtown train!

    as someone who would like to become an Ottawa homeowner in the next few years, i don’t want my taxes through the roof because we’re developing every piece of land between Kanata and Montreal lol

  4. April 25, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    And now you’ve got me thinking over that idea of greater Montréal and Ottawa getting together as their own province again…

  5. April 28, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Bayview would be great, but I think the reality is that Lansdowne is what’s on the table. It’s not the ideal location, but it has served the city well for almost 130 years, as well. Being in an established neighbourhood, I think it’s also in a better position to leverage the community benefits of sports facilities: the spillover into bars, shops and the like that occurs when there’s events. Bayview might be easier to get to, but you’re not nipping around the corner for a drink after the game there, either.

    • 7 David McClelland
      April 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm

      That’s a good point regarding the community spillover, and something I probably should have thought of, frankly! I do agree with you overall, I think a stadium at Lansdowne is a good thing, my main question was why so little consideration was given to the possibilities of the Bayview site.

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