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Sens owner talking Gatineau as new arena option, says Ottawa doesn't treat him fairly

Eugene Melnyk says he wishes he could get a tax break after seeing that a city committee voted in favour of helping a Porche dealership locate to Vanier.
2018 Ottawa Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk-1
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Even though Ottawa Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk says he's "85 per cent staying in Kanata," he's making a case for potentially building his team's new home in Gatineau.

Speaking on a podcast released on Wednesday, May 19, hosted by sports radio personality Bob McCown, Melnyk says Gatineau is one of the areas he's "feeling out" at the moment.

"There's some beautiful land, beautiful backdrops of Parliament Hill from [Gatineau] and it is closer to downtown [Ottawa]. But I'm still committed to Kanata and I'm looking at sometime in the next three-to-five years committing to one or the other [location] and I’m going to have to build a new arena," says Melnyk. "I need a new arena in about seven years from now; Five-to-seven, five-to-10 [years]."

Since things fell through with the LeBreton Flats development and ended up in lawsuits for the Sens owner, he says he has looked at a federally owned site in Ottawa which would be attractive for a new NHL-sized arena.

But he still finds dealing with the City of Ottawa difficult.

"I’ve not had the easiest time in the city of Ottawa. Not with the people, not with the fans, believe it or not," explains Melnyk. McCown's co-host John Shannon chimes in with,"There’s a hierarchy in that city," to which Melnyk replies, "Political, yes."

"I just read this, literally an hour ago," continues Melnyk, "Here I am paying through the nose in taxes out there, and they just gave the Porsche dealership $2.6-million tax break. I’m going, 'Well, wait, Oh, it’s because of all the economic benefit -- What economic benefit? He’s selling [expletive] Porsches.'" 

The Sens owner says he would like a tax break as his team is playing to no fans at the moment. 

"I just don't think I'm treated fairly," Melnyk says of his relationship with the city.

"By far, my number one preference is I want to stay in Kanata, but when you're reading stuff like I did an hour ago about a Porsche dealership. Really?"

Melnyk added however, that he has also recently met with a developer who was talking about putting condos and hotels on his Kanata land as more people continue to move to the west side of Ottawa. 

"I have about 70 acres of land around our arena in Kanata, and in 16 years that I've owned the team Ottawa has grown westward, which is toward Kanata. And it's now... that 26-minute drive that felt like forever is no longer a big deal."

The Ottawa Senators owner is also excited for the Canadian Tire Centre to eventually be home to a stop on Ottawa's extended light rail system.

But for now, he's keeping Gatineau options open.

"Either we build another stadium out in Kanata, on our own property that we own, or there’s a great deal that comes from the other side of the river."

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