Neil Malhotra, vice-president of Claridge Homes, is serious about putting a professional soccer team in Coventry Road’s Ottawa Stadium.
Malhotra says he has talked with the new North American Soccer League (comprised of some teams that have pulled out of the United Soccer Leagues) and that group is interested in Malhotra’s initiative.
While he will not run a baseball team in the park, Malhotra said soccer and baseball are compatible in the current stadium layout. A soccer field, with safety zones for players, will fit along the third base line of the field if the outfield wall is moved out. The developer has had discussions with the pro Can-Am League about a franchise for Ottawa Stadium but someone else would have to run the club.
Malhotra is looking at starting the soccer operation in 2011.
He added that a planned pedestrian footbridge over Highway 417 in two years from the Transitway will help attendance at the stadium. He believes he can come to agreements with surrounding landowners about parking.
Malhotra said he needs to know details of what the city expects from tenants of the stadium (ie. rent and conditions) before he can proceed with a bid.
«Our interest is genuine,» the developer said in an interview this morning.
Here is the e-mail he sent me this morning referring to the city report in the previous post:
Please be advised that I am the third party that has expressed an interest in the stadium with an eye to bringing professional soccer to Ottawa.
I will be making a presentation at committee today to express my disappointment in the report. In contains a number of incorrect facts, most importantly, that a soccer field does not fit.
The lack of correct information in staff’s hands is a clear indication of why a transparent and open RFP process is needed to determine the future of the stadium sooner rather than later.
I will be available later today to speak further on the issue.