Lansdowne foes offside

CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

The proposal for the rejuvenation of Lansdowne Park includes a 25,000-seat stadium, an aquarium, soccer pitches, an ampitheatre, stores, restaurants and a home for the popular farmers' market.

No mention of a big top tent.

Yesterday's press conference to reveal the proposal was turned into a circus by the opponents of doing anything with the Lansdowne site but apparently turning it into one big backyard where they could all link hands and sing Kumbaya.

What should have been an opportunity to hear and see the vision by the Jeff Hunt-fronted CFL partnership was turned into a sideshow.

When the formal part of the presentation concluded and it was time for questions, the men behind the bid were forced to listen to statements, not questions.

Glebeites don't want anything as crass as a stadium or stores in their neighbourhood.

We get it.

Thing is, their voices and opinions don't count any more or any less than anybody else's in deciding the future of Lansdowne Park.

"I'm not sure what we saw here (yesterday) is representative of the entire city of Ottawa," said Hunt, the Ottawa 67's owner who is serving as the frontman for the group, which includes prominent Ottawa businessmen Roger Greenberg, William Shenkman and John Ruddy.

"(Coun.) Clive Doucet brought out a group of supporters from his perspective and certainly their opinion is as important as anybody's.

"We didn't necessarily see a representation (from across Ottawa) ... I didn't see anybody from Orleans here."

As Hunt put it, this was "step two of 122," but the Glebeites, when they weren't pontificating, wanted details and they wanted them now.

What's going to happen to the interior of the Aberdeen Pavilion?

What about the soil conditions?

Why couldn't the NDP/Liberals/Green Party win every riding in the election?

Like Shenkman said yesterday at one point in the proceedings, "this whole plan can't be imposed on anybody. It's an open, consultative process."

Which is just starting.

So the second proposal for a new stadium in Ottawa is officially launched, joining the bid by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk for an MLS expansion franchise and $100-million soccer-specific stadium in Kanata.

'HEALTHY DEBATE'

Sources indicated there is still no chance of the two sides getting together, so now they will each proceed on their own tracks.

While noting the CFL partners' proposal will encourage "healthy, constructive debate on a vitally important issue for our city," Melnyk also said in a statement: "Proper, modern-day stadium planning must take into consideration a number of key variables, including access to public transit, a site development plan to manage high vehicular traffic, access to a minimum of 7,500 parking spots, experienced large-scale facility operators, and a fully integrated organization with a proven track record of attracting and maximizing the diverse range of sporting and entertainment opportunities fitting of a world-class venue."

That statement points out what he thinks are the obvious weak points of the CFL partners' proposal.

As far as the prospect of basing their CFL franchise out in Kanata as part of a joint proposal, Hunt said: "We think location is a huge element to the success of a franchise. That would be a challenge to be in Kanata. I know the Senators have been extremely successful there. I don't think anybody would say it's because they're in Kanata. I think it's in spite of the fact they're in Kanata. This is hockey country and people will tolerate the commute to Kanata to see their NHL team play. I wouldn't want to throw that extra challenge in front of a CFL rebirth."

The CFL partnership is proposing a joint public-private initiative which it said might wind up costing the city less than it is spending on Lansdowne Park and Frank Clair Stadium now. They're talking about a 30-year lease with the city maintaining ownership of the facilities.

It's obviously worth hearing what the CFL partnership has to say, in a rational way, away from the big top.


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