If you raze it, it is done

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

The South stands at Frank Clair Stadium are closed, cracks in the concrete structure making it unsafe and its ability to support fans compromised.

Lynx Stadium will now, apparently, might also sit empty, the lack of support from fans over the years compromising the Lynx' future here.

Developments this week have placed the politicians and citizenry of Ottawa in a position to have to make some hard decisions about the future of the stadia in this city.

The latest news about Frank Clair Stadium is alarming for sports fans in this city, especially those who might have helped fill those very stands to brimming during the FIFA U20 soccer championship in July.

PROVINCIAL ELECTION

Did the unaccustomed burden of a sellout crowd hasten the damage city engineers discovered last week?

The bottom line is the people of Ottawa and the politicians will now have to revisit the future of Frank Clair Stadium.

The timing is good to get a dialogue going. This latest news and the upcomng provincial election afford the opportunity to find out what kind of vision our municipal and provincial politicians have for a facility like Lansdowne Park.

There are a lot of options, some of which are:

1. Spend the money to fix the South stands and continue with the status quo.

2. Raze them and go without.

3. Sell Lansdowne Park to developers and have government get out of the stadium business altogether.

4. Sell it and use the money to start over on another site.

There are other options and a lot of possible combinations, of course.

Without the South stands, the park's capacity is more than halved. Some will argue that without a CFL team, we don't need much more than that, so why spend the money on either repairing or rebuilding the South stands when they will sit unused most of the time?

Do we invest in the facility -- and in my opinion -- invest in the character and culture of our city?

What about the future of the Civic Centre, which is tied to the North stands?

If the park is sold to developers, I believe there must be a plan to direct the profits into building another facility capable of hosting the 67's and events like the FIFA U20 tournament or a Rolling Stones concert.

If the windfall from the selling of Lansdowne isn't earmarked for another facility, I don't think there will ever be the will or inclination among our politicians in the future to find the money to build a publicly funded facility.

It might be old-school thinking on my part, but I still believe it is part of a municipal government's responsibility to provide facilities like Lansdowne Park that serve the public good.

If public support of the arts remains a worthy ideal for the benefits it brings to our community, I would argue the same can be said for a major sports facility capable of hosting events like the U20, a major concert, or a Grey Cup game (hey, you never know).

The ability to host events like those makes this city a better place in which to live. You only had to see how this city came alive last spring during the Senators' run to the Stanley Cup to understand the benefits sports can have on a city's psyche.

The future of Lynx Stadium is also in question. As the city has allowed development to encroach on the site, the required inventory of parking spots has been reduced to unworkable levels.

ROOF OVER LYNX STADIUM

There's a proposal out there to put a roof over Lynx Stadium and turn it into principally a concert venue, but you really have to wonder, with Scotiabank Place and the Civic Centre already here, if there is a need for another indoor venue.

The Can-Am Baseball League is ready to move in and assume the Lynx lease, which runs for another two years, so at least there is an option there that can buy some time to figure out what to do and still have some revenue coming into city coffers.

This city also needs a bona fide convention centre. Is this an opportunity to perhaps sell the Lynx Stadium and Lansdowne Park sites and build a new facility with the proceeds that meets the demands of Ottawa for the next 50 years?

Given the news this week, this seems like a good time to ask the question.

Answers, anybody?


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