SBD/September 12, 2013/Franchises

Senators' Melnyk Unhappy With Process Used To Deny Casino At Canadian Tire Centre

Melnyk said the Senators' survival depends on finding a third revenue source
Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk while appearing on Toronto-based CJCL-AM on Tuesday "let loose with his opinions" on the Rideau Carleton Raceway, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Deputy Mayor Steve Desroches, according to Zev Singer of the OTTAWA CITIZEN. Describing the process by which Ottawa’s city council recently turned down his request to compete for the opportunity to build a casino at his Canadian Tire Centre, Melnyk said that the Rideau Carleton Raceway, the casino site chosen by council, "is a third-class race track in the middle of nowhere." Melnyk: "I don’t mind losing, but these guys didn’t even give me a shot. Then you’ve got the mayor -- I don’t know what planet he’s flown in from -- but he then turns around and says, ‘No, no. This is the only place we’re going to do it.’ His deputy mayor, Steve Desroches, says in the meeting, this big, big meeting you know ... ‘There’s too much competition in the world right now.’ I said, ‘You know what? They should have named Neptune after you. That’s where you belong. Because what did you just say? Tell me again how you got elected?’” Asked whether the issue was now dead, Melnyk answered: “No. You kidding? We’re just getting warmed up" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/11).

DO OR DIE? In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch noted Melnyk's words "came only 24 hours" after Senators President Cyril Leeder "resigned from four city committees because of a decision by council" to ask the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp to "put a casino at Rideau Carleton Raceway." Melnyk said that the club "needs another revenue source to help with its survival." He maintains that he has lost C$95M "since purchasing the club 10 years ago." Melnyk: "I don't care if I win, lose or draw, just do it right. Do a competition. You're not the only guys in the race. Let's see if you can stand on your own. If I lose, I lose, I'm OK. I go home and come up with a Plan C. Right now, there's no Plan C. Can we survive? You know what, it all depends on how the team does. It all depends can we find a third revenue source." Melnyk added that he "didn't like the process of losing" a bid to build a soccer-specific stadium near the Canadian Tire Centre. Melnyk: "I tried to build a soccer stadium. They all say you're out in the boonies in Kanata. I say, 'Well, yeah, because I've been trying to build for 10 years now.' (MLS) says 'You get a stadium in there, you got a team.' I propose that. (The city) says no. They're going to bring CFL football back to Ottawa and they gave a $400 million gift of insiders there and that was it" (OTTAWA SUN, 9/11).
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