(ABOVE: A screen capture from an early 1990s video. Bruce Firestone talks to reporters on the Huntmar Bridge overlooking the farmer’s field that would eventually become the Palladium, now known as Canadian Tire Centre.)
Ottawa Magazine published an excerpt of Bruce Firestone’s new book, “Don’t Back Down”. Firestone is the founder of the Sens, and the book chronicle the behind-the-scenes quest to bring a franchise to Ottawa. Here’s what Bruce thinks will happen to our community if the Sens ever end up moving to Lebreton Flats.
OK then, let me ask you again, what will happen to CTC and Kanata? Will it be an economic disaster?
The simple answer is yes, and no.
Yes, in the sense that animation (i.e., more development) around Canadian Tire Centre will have to wait until uncertainty about future plans are settled — either they are going to LeBreton Flats or they are not.
I mean, would you build a new hotel or condo next to an arena that might go dark in a few years — its lead tenant having absconded to greener pastures? No, you would not.
The answer is also, “No.” It will not be an economic disaster, and I can prove it to you.
Wal-Mart said that one of their biggest mistakes was not building bigger (much bigger) in Kanata. The repurposing of old Maple Leaf Gardens for a superstore (Loblaw) and Ryerson University’s MAC Centre has been a huge success. Something similar could be done with Canadian Tire Centre — at least the big box part.
I would really like it if (Eugene) Melnyk would call me up, and ask me to lease CTC for him to two or three superstores.
Basically, it’s my belief that Eugene might actually make more dough from having two superstores occupy his building than from having the Sens as his lead tenant.
And from west-end Ottawa’s viewpoint, it might make very little difference other than losing some prestige from hosting an NHL team.
Using Wal-Mart as an example, their total customer count each week is about 100 million people visiting one of their 4,255 stores. This works out to an average of 23,502 visitors a week, or 1.22 million people per year. If the other superstore sees the same kind of numbers, then total attendance at a new, rebranded CTC might be around 2.44 million people per annum.
That’s even more than visit the building now.
Kanata will be fine, maybe even better off economically than it already is.