Stadium process jumps question

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

City council is sticking to its schedule for choosing an open-air stadium by April 22 despite Tuesday's revelation that no federal or provincial money has been committed to the project.

"Things will go forward as outlined," Coun. Peter Hume, chairman of the city's planning committee, said yesterday.

Hume and other councillors were shocked to learn from city manager Kent Kirkpatrick on Tuesday that any federal money to help build a stadium would have to compete with other infrastructure projects such as transit and sewers.

Kirkpatrick told the committee there is no separate pot of funds for the stadium, and the city should proceed under the assumption that it is on its own while he lobbies the other levels of government.

Ottawa is considering two unsolicited proposals for a 20,000-seat outdoor stadium -- at Lansdowne Park for a CFL team and in Kanata for an MLS team.

In 2006, the federal government chipped in $27 million to build BMO Field, a soccer-specific stadium in Toronto that is home to its MLS team. The province gave $8 million and the City of Toronto gave $9.8 million in cash and $10 million in land. The franchise owners, Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, paid the remaining $18 million.

Senators Sports & Entertainment, the proponents behind the Kanata stadium, based its funding model on the Toronto precedent when it submitted its proposal to Ottawa city staff.

But that didn't mean the money had been secured.

"Our understanding and expectation is that the city's review process will involve exploring potential avenues for the provincial and federal governments to participate in funding Ottawa's new stadium," said Cyril Leeder, COO of SS&E.

The Lansdowne proposal does not specifically call for federal or provincial money, but city council has said it could not afford the cost of renovating Frank Clair Stadium, estimated at about $80 million, on its own.

On March 10, the planning committee is scheduled to review a city-commissioned report by the Corporate Research Group that assesses the need for an outdoor stadium and ranks 23 potential sites. It will be presented to council on March 11. A staff report on the two stadium proposals is scheduled to go before council on March 25. After public consultation, council is supposed to make a decision on April 22.


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