Top US-based entities to build Senators home



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New land for Ottawa Senators arena Image: Capital Sports Development Inc.

Recently, the Canadian professional ice hockey team Ottawa Senators were unveiled as the preferred bidder for the arena parcel at LeBreton Flats (neighborhood in Ottawa, Canada). The team also announced that it was partnering with Live Nation, Sterling Project Development, Tipping Point Sports, and Populous to build an arena on the site.

(The arena consortium has no effect on the Senators ownership, which remains in the hands of Anna and Olivia Melnyk, daughters of former owner Eugene Melnyk, who died in March.)

The Ottawa Senators are a Canadian professional ice hockey team based in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada) that plays in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Senators have won one Eastern Conference championship (2007).

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams – 25 in the United States and 7 in Canada. It is considered to be the top ranked professional ice hockey league in the world, and is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.

The 19,153-capacity Canadian Tire Centre is a multipurpose indoor arena in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, located in the Western suburb of Kanata. It opened in January 1996 as the Palladium and was also known as Corel Centre from 1996 to 2006 and Scotiabank Place from 2006 to 2013. It serves as the residence of the Ottawa Senators.

The LeBreton Flats is an evolving area beside the Ottawa River, known for its sprawling green spaces and for the glass-roofed Canadian War Museum which exhibits photos, artifacts and weaponry from the country’s military history. The annual BluesFest in July, and other music and food festivals, are held in LeBreton Flats Park close by. The waterway and adjoining trails are popular for kayaking, biking and jogging.

Here’s the rundown on the US-based companies that will play an instrumental role in building the new arena for the Ottawa Senators.
 

Jeff Wilpon and Sterling Project Development

‘Ottawa Citizen’ stated that Jeff Wilpon, 60, is founding Co-Partner of the New York-based Sterling Project Development.

In 1980, Wilpon’s father, rags-to-riches real estate magnate Fred Wilpon, bought a one percent share in the Major League Baseball (MLB) team New York Mets based in New York (US). From 2002 to 2020, the Wilpons were majority owners of the National League team, until they sold their stake to hedge fund manager Steve Cohen for $2.4 billion.

During the Wilpons’ tenure, Jeff oversaw construction of the Mets’ new ballpark, the 41,922-capacity Citi Field in Flushing, New York, coming in on time and under budget.

But the Wilpons’ tenure as majority owners was a rocky one.

This is how the ‘New York Times’ story described the Wilpon years in a 2019 story, “At their best, the Wilpons, self-made multimillionaires from the City’s outer boroughs, shined as generous philanthropists who occasionally broke the bank for a star player. At their worst, they were a squabbling, disorganized clan with a baseball team that fans saw as inept and thrifty, and functioning as a vanity play for the family scion, Fred Wilpon, and his eldest son, Jeff, who has overseen a team with mostly disappointing results since 2002.”

The same story described Jeff as “aggressive and short-tempered”. Jeff, who like his father had a short career as a professional baseball player himself, was accused of being a micromanager who meddled too much with the club operations.

Jeff Wilpon is also owner of the New York Excelsior, a team of professional videogamers.

The Wilpon family were notable investors with convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff, reportedly losing $700 million in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme (an investment fraud that pays existing investors with funds collected from new investors).

Sterling was also a partner in the new home for the NHL team New York Islanders – the 17,255-capacity UBS Arena in Elmont, New York.
 

Tipping Point Sports

‘Ottawa Citizen’ further stated that the Tipping Point Sports bills itself as a “boutique sports finance and advisory firm”. Based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey (US), Tipping Point and its CEO Mitchell Ziets list the NHL’s Florida Panthers as clients he’s advised about building new arenas along with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The Tipping Point website says Ziets “fills a critical role by supplying financial advice for both teams and municipalities seeking to build arenas and stadiums.” That advice includes such things as a due diligence, public-private partnership strategy and negotiations of development agreements.

His company’s clients include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Florida Panthers on arena matters. Elsewhere, Ziets is serving as a financial strategist to Chris Hanson tied to the development of a new downtown arena in Seattle. In Phoenix, he’s providing investment banking services for the NHL team Arizona Coyotes as they explore building a new arena. In Oakland and San Diego, he’s providing financial advice in efforts to build new National Football League (NFL) stadiums in those two markets. In the Bay Area, his client is the City of Oakland. In San Diego, he’s assisting JMI Realty as the NFL team Los Angeles Chargers propose a downtown stadium tied to a convention center expansion.
 

Populous

Populous is a global architectural design firm that has built arenas such as the 17,459-capacity Climate Pledge Arena (Seattle, Washington) for the NHL team Seattle Kraken, the 20,000-capacity T-Mobile Arena (Paradise, Nevada) for the NHL team Vegas Golden Knights, the 18,259-capacity Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada, and the 62,850-capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England (UK).

Formed in 2009, Kansas City, Missouri (US)-based Populous has developments in 34 countries around the globe.
 

Live Nation

The Live Nation Entertainment was formed in 2010 in a merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation and is the world’s largest events promoter.

Its President is Canadian Michael Rapino, who was born in Thunder Bay (City in Ontario, Canada), and named President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Live Nation in 2005 and continued in that role with Live Nation Entertainment after the merger.

Live Nation bills itself as the “world’s leading live entertainment company”, hosting 40,000 shows annually, more than 100 festivals and selling half a billion tickets worldwide.

The company is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California (US) and employs 44,000. Live Nation Canada is based in Toronto.

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