Posts Tagged ‘Lansdowne Park



18
Oct
08

Lansdowne Live!

I’m surprised no one in the Ottawa blogosphere (Ottawagosphere?) has talked about this, but Jeff Hunt and his group of local businesspeople with a conditional CFL bid have released their plans for Lansdowne Park, and I have to say, it sure looks sharp. Here’s what the plan looks like:

In a nutshell, this is what we’re looking at:

  • A refurbished\rebuilt Frank Clair Stadium, with a capacity for 25,000 fans, and suitable for both CFL football and soccer
  • A refurbished Civic Centre, presumably with about the same capacity as it currently has (just south of 10,000).
  • An outdoor amiptheatre for musical and theatrical acts, with a capacity of 2,000.
  • A retail park and central promenade, with restaurants and shops lining the areas along Bank and Holmwood. I think some residential development would be involved as well.
  • Community soccer, baseball and football fields.
  • A walk-through aquarium inside the Aberdeen Pavilion.
  • Significantly reduced surface parking, and overall, a much more pedestrian friendly area.
  • A specially designated space for the Ottawa Farmer’s Market, allowing it to continue on in the Glebe.

With the exception of the aquarium (which just makes me go “huh?”), I think this is a fantastic looking plan. Yes, it does require that we essentially allow this public space to become a private development, but if the plan is any indication, it would be an incredible addition to the City of Ottawa. We would have garaunteed space for the Ottawa Farmer’s Markets, along with retail space and community sports fields, indicating to me that Hunt wants a redeveloped Lansdowne Park to be as well-integrated into the Glebe community as possible, certainly an encouraging sign.

In addition, the a refurbished 25,000 seat stadium located in the heart of Ottawa would do wonders for the city. Not only would we have a venue in which we could host the CFL properly, but we would have a place that could act as a temporary home for any number of world class events, a facility which is sorely lacking in Ottawa right now. I also like the idea of keeping the 67s at Lansdowne Park, as it would ensure that it would become a year-round venue, and not something that closes up shop entirely in the winter.

What will be most interesting, perhaps, is to see how, firstly the City reacts to this, and next how Eugene Melnyk and his group looking for a Major League Soccer franchise react. Melnyk has proposed his own 30,000 seat stadium near Scotiabank Place in Kanata, and Hunt’s plan is clearly in opposition to this, especially given some of the slightly snide remarks on the Lansdowne Live! website indicating their stadium would be suitable for MLS play. What we will probably see in the coming months, as these two local sports magnates duke it out, is a battle between urban and suburban, redevelopment versus sprawl, and, in the face of rising oil costs, perhaps even the future versus the past. I will most definitely be cheering on Hunt’s plan, and I sincerely hope that City Council is able to share his vision, and work with him towards making it a reality.

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