An Arena-Village Plan Could Complicate The Ottawa Senators Franchise Sale

The present owners have an arena-village deal option.

The sale of a major league sports franchise is not an easy process. The sellers need to identify a potential buyer. The negotiations to sell the team start while the league does due diligence to make sure the buyer actually has the money to purchase the team. The National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators franchise is up for sale. Eugene Melnyk, the owner, died in 2022, and his family decided to sell off the property. There are a number of interested suitors for the business but there is a complication that makes this sale a bit more difficult. The Melnyk heirs have entered into an agreement with local politicians to develop an arena-village in the LeBreton Flats part of the city near downtown Ottawa. A potential owner might not want to be part of the arena-village plan.

It appeared that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wanted the potential franchise owners to not only buy the team but also develop the LeBreton Flats property. But not so fast, the NHL’s Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly may have contradicted his boss. Daly told John Shannon and Bob McCown on the Bob McCown Podcast that “there may be bids that don’t have LeBreton Flats as part of their future projection for this franchise. It depends on what they have planned. It’s certainly a relevant part of the mix, but I don’t think it’s an essential element.” Daly added the franchise will be sold in excess of $800 million and that a billion is a “real possibility.” Ottawa is a small market and has been a problem franchise for the league since it awarded Bruce Firestone and his partners a team in 1990. Firestone had major difficulties coming up with the $50 million US expansion fee. The team has been sold twice and endured a bankruptcy. The league wants the team to stay in Ottawa.

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