Lansdowne $8M in the red despite Grey Cup, NHL game

The Lansdowne Park partnership between the city and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) ended 2017 nearly $8 million in the red, despite hosting such high-profile events as the Grey Cup and an outdoor NHL game.

The Lansdowne partnership posted a net loss of $7.9 million in its fourth year of operation, an improvement over the $14.4 million loss it posted in 2016.

OSEG, which owns the football, junior hockey and soccer teams that call Lansdowne Park home, and runs the arena, stadium and commercial space, is looking for a way to attract more people to the revitalized Glebe district, and generate more revenue.

It intends to come up with recommendations and present them to city councillors by the end of June.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Visits, bookings up

Lansdowne Park saw 3.9 million visitors in 2017, up half-a-million from 2016. 

According to the report, all major retail tenants said business was up in 2017, and 95 per cent of the park's commercial space was leased.

The city's parks and recreation department is responsible for programming such as cultural events and weddings at the Aberdeen Pavilion and Horticulture Building. Those buildings hosted 181 events from June 2017 to May 2018, generating $462,000 in revenue.

All told, revenue from Lansdowne Park rose from $50 million in 2016 to $69 million in 2017, with more than half of that increase credited to the Grey Cup game and related festivities.

Total profits from Lansdowne operations hit $8.5 million in 2017, but depreciation, borrowing costs and interest left the partnership with the $7.9-million loss.

Kate Porter/CBC

Tweaking the 'waterfall'

OSEG recently launched a strategic review to stabilize the "waterfall," a complex 30-year financial arrangement that determines who gets paid, when.

The higher-than-expected costs OSEG incurred to finish construction of the shops at Lansdowne and refurbish the stadium and arena still hang over the partnership. There was a further $10 million in unplanned spending on technology in 2017, the report said.

According to the latest financial update, Lansdowne Park has now officially graduated from its startup phase, another development since 2016.

The latest annual financial update comes 21 months after the 2016 report was tabled, a delay partly attributed to OSEG's change in CEO — Mark Goudie has replaced Bernie Ashe.

Councillors on the finance and economic development committee will officially receive the report at their meeting Tuesday.