The University of Ottawa wants to build its own indoor stadium at the Lees Avenue sports field after a convoluted three-way deal with the city and a private company failed last year, killing an entire winter soccer season.
A new domed stadium could fill a void left behind by Coliseum Inc., the company that used to operate a packed schedule out of Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne Park, until the city’s redevelopment plans forced Coliseum to move.
The city tried to hammer out a deal with the university that would see all three parties benefit from the dome’s relocation to Lees Avenue, but that agreement fell apart because Coliseum says the university did not properly prepare the field, a claim school officials regularly deny.
And while Coliseum seeks to recover an estimated $800,000 — the cost of last year’s cancelled season — from the city through arbitration, the university is going its own way. School spokesman Patrick Charette would not say whether the U of O wants to replace Coliseum, which has operated in the city for 18 years and had a list of about 400 teams who booked last season before the cancellation.
“We’re not ready to get into details right now,” he said. “We’re working toward putting up our own programming for our own community.”
The university put out a request for information in March and met with potential bidders last week. A request for proposals is expected to be issued this year. Charette said school representatives would have considered other options with the city, but they did not want to wait any longer with the possibility of another cancelled season.
“We’re always open to options, but one option for us was to operate our own dome,” he said. “We’ve decided to move forward. We want to make sure we have in place a dome to offer year-round services to the downtown core community.”
Martin Lauter at Coliseum has all but given up on signing a new deal with the city. The last communication with the municipality’s lawyers was in January, when Lauter thought they would have a meeting to work out a deal.
“We were hopeful that we’d get back on line, but it never happened,” he said. “It looks like the city has closed the books on us.”
City staff did not respond to requests about whether there are plans to find a new home for Coliseum’s dome, but the municipality’s solicitor Rick O’Connor said, like any arbitration process, a deal can be reached by both parties before the arbitration decision is made.