One of Canada's top soccer officials believes city council dropped the ball with its decision to pass on supporting a 20,000-seat stadium in Kanata to house an MLS expansion franchise.
Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, said last night that he's "disappointed" council sided with the Lansdowne Live proposal to revitalize Frank Clair Stadium in an attempt to bring the CFL back to Ottawa.
The soccer proposal by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has been put on hold until the city has completed negotiations with local developers for the Lansdowne Live proposal.
"(Soccer is) the fastest-growing sport in Canada and we've got the numbers to prove it," said Montopoli, a Kanata resident. "We've been working with the Senators on the aspects of their bid and we've been supportive right from the beginning.
"We'll be supportive no matter what happens down the road. (A stadium) would be great for the development of soccer in this area and also for Canada. We're seeing a proportionate growth for soccer in Canada."
If the city doesn't reach a deal with the Lansdowne group, council could attempt to renegotiate with Melnyk. The MLS has been bullish on Ottawa and if the go-ahead is given for a stadium, it has promised to deliver an expansion franchise.
MLS REMAINS SILENT
A request yesterday to speak with MLS commissioner Don Garber was declined.
"After speaking with our executives, we have elected to refrain from commenting on this topic," Dan Courtemanche, senior VP of communications and marketing for the MLS, said in an e-mail last night.
While there's only a 60-day window to get a deal in place with the city to make the Lansdowne Live proposal a reality, local businessmen Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy, Bill Shenkman and Jeff Hunt have agreed to put formal talks with the city on hold until next week.
After winning support from council with a 14-9 decision Wednesday, Greenberg and city manager Kent Kirkpatrick -- who will have to negotiate the agreement that will go before council in two months for final approval -- agreed to step back for a few days.
"We will likely meet early next week to chart a course of action," Greenberg said in an e-mail.