Newly installed Ottawa Senators owner Michael Andlauer wasted no time making his mark on the franchise, immediately bringing back popular former team executive Cyril Reeder as CEO. But when it comes to perhaps the biggest decisions of all for the Senators — how and where to build a new arena — Andlauer is taking a much more cautious path.
Andlauer on Friday was formally introduced as the Senators’ new owner a day after his league-record $950 million purchase of the team was approved by the NHL Board of Governors and subsequently closed.
Long before Andlauer’s arrival, the Senators have been actively seeking to supplant the 27-year-old Canadian Tire Centre and build a new arena, with downtown Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats long been seen as the preferred site.
But Andlauer cautioned much still needs to be done before that becomes the Senators’ definitive plan, including working out myriad details with the city of Ottawa and Canada’s National Capital Commission. Earlier this year, Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe also suggested several other potential sites.
“The most important thing is what’s important for the fans,” Andlauer said. “If I can increase the fan experience, that’s what I’m here for. So, probably the fans will help me dictate where the best place will be.”
Andlauer did call the LeBreton Flats property “the best piece of land that’s available for development in probably any major city in North America.” But in these early days of his ownership, Andlauer stressed that “I like options.”
“We’re all going in the same direction,” Andlauer said of working with city, provincial, and national leaders on the arena effort. “So it’s a matter of collaborating, working together, and seeing what works.”
Andlauer has been a limited partner of the Montreal Canadiens, and league rules dictate that he must divest that equity. The process to do that is underway, and Canadiens owner Geoff Molson has first right of refusal to buy back that interest.
That situation is similar to Josh Harris’ move to sell his Pittsburgh Steelers equity after acquiring the Washington Commanders.