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Ottawa Senators awarded land at downtown LeBreton Flats to build new arena

The Ottawa Senators have reached a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission, and a group of partners, to build an arena at the downtown site LeBreton Flats.

The announcement Thursday brings the Senators closer to a new arena in Canada’s capital, though several steps remain. The Senators, the NCC and that group of partners will try to formulate a deal on a lease for the land — a process that will likely take an additional six months.

The Senators have partnered with a handful of investors with experience in building stadiums and arenas on this project, including Sterling Project Development (UBS Arena), Populus (Climate Pledge Arena and T-Mobile Arena), Tipping Point Sports and Live Nation.

This is the second time the Senators have been awarded the right to develop the parcel of land at Lebreton Flats to build an NHL arena. The hockey club was also the preferred bidder back in the spring of 2016. However, negotiations broke down after a contentious business relationship between Eugene Melnyk and his partner John Ruddy devolved into a pair of lawsuits that halted the project entirely.

Currently, the Senators play at the Canadian Tire Centre, which opened in 1996 and is located in the nearby suburb of Kanata. A new arena could be an important piece for the Senators’ future in Ottawa. Before the NHL100 Classic in 2017, owner Eugene Melnyk — who died earlier this year — spoke of the necessity of a downtown arena.

Last season, the Senators (73 points in 82 games) ranked last in NHL average attendance at 9,155 — 47.8 percent capacity. In 2016-17, a season that saw them go to the Eastern Conference finals, they averaged 16,744 fans per game, which was 87.4 percent capacity.

(Photo: André Ringuette / NHLI via Getty Images)

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