David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
The city's set to settle a $24-million dispute with the private developers who renovated Lansdowne Park largely because the way their deal is structured, the city would end up holding the bag no matter what it does.
This is in spite of an opinion from the city's lawyers that says that if the city and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group fought it out, the city would probably win.
The $24-million figure is mostly the cost to replace rusty structural steel the builders discovered once they started ripping into the north-side stands of what's now TD Place, though it includes a few smaller surprises and squabbles that aren't surprising in a project as big as Lansdowne — who's on the hook for using higher-end materials in OSEG's new retail area because the city wanted them to match the stuff it used in the park it built next door, that kind of thing.
The Lansdowne partnership's finances are tight. Even in the context of a project worth hundreds of millions, $24 million is real money.
The legal opinion, from outside firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson, is secret. It says that on every front, Gowlings' lawyers think the city would probably win. On the big-ticket steel, OSEG knew that rain leaked into the Civic Centre hockey arena from above — not least because it dripped into Ottawa 67's owner and OSEG partner Jeff Hunt's private box. It had a report in hand suggesting that the steel in the arena roof, which supported the concourse for the football stadium built on top of it, had probably been exposed to a lot of water.