Sens Flashback: The Ottawa Palladium

by SensForLife11 (aka @BringBackLee) 

Everybody knows the one thing that's always said about the Canadian Tire Centre: it's in the middle of nowhere. I live in Kanata and even I can't argue with that. It's positioned beside the 417, surrounded by farmland, an auto park and the "largest parking lot in Eastern Ontario." That's about it. However, Kanata itself has vastly developed since the arena was built; if you take a five minute drive away from the CTC you are right back in an urban environment. Unfortunately, the development has severely been lacking in nightlife entertainment, the result being nobody wanting to stay in Kanata after attending a game.

Imagine if there was just a bit of entertainment withing walking distance of the CTC (casino anybody?). It would change the whole perception of the arena. Wouldn't it be nice to have restaurants, shops or nightclubs to visit after a game? It would surely help with the congestion resulting from a capacity crowd of 20,500 leaving at the exact same time.

Interestingly enough, this almost came to be with the original plan for the CTC. The proposal for the Ottawa Palladium was incredibly ambitious and I've managed to locate documents chronicling what could have been been.

Below is an article from July 1990 that summarizes the original plan for the Ottawa Palladium:

Looking at all those bullet points, almost none of them apply to what we have now. A hotel attached to the arena with suites that overlooked the rink! Underground parking! 100,000 square feet of street level retail and office space! And most important of all, shops, banks, restaurants and night clubs! Just picture that, there would be a reason to stay in the area following a game. However, easily the most shocking revelation in the original plan was the capacity of the arena at 22,500. This would have made it the largest arena in the NHL, ahead of the Bell Centre at 21,273.  

Ironically, it was a Detroit based company that aided in the original design which can be seen below: 

Notice how it looks absolutely nothing like what we have now. I'm not quite sure how they went from that to deciding to make the arena in the shape of a circle. The project got nicknamed "The Field of Dreams", because Ottawa is so good at naming things.

Fast forward to November 1991, where the Sens would release another article updating the progress on the world class Ottawa Palladium. 

Overall, the plan seemed to remain the same, except for the number of suites being reduced to 100 from 200 (for what reason, I have no idea). In addition, they also revealed an artist concept of the inside of the arena which is surprisingly accurate to what we actually have now. They also provided a picture of their luxury suites which look incredible with their giant sofas (which sadly do not exist in real life). 

The question is: what went wrong? It came partially down to money; ownership required loans as they lacked the cash to fund the entire construction themselves. However, the root cause comes down to the NDP beating the Liberals in a provincial election. The Liberals had originally agreed to the rezoning required to allow the construction of such a large project as well as providing money to fund the construction of the new interchange. However, the loss to the NDP put a dent in that as they wanted to preserve the ever valuable farm land for the future. The end result was a large reduction on the original plans, including reducing the arena capacity from 22,500 to 18,500 and not building the surrounding entertainment. For full details on what went wrong and why the parking is terrible, check out this great article by Ottawa Senators' founder Bruce Firestone.

From an article from September 1992, it is amazing how quickly things changed.

So there you have it, that is why we have only the arena today and a lack of anything else. I will leave you with these two pictures which will surely make you think of what could have been.
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