By Chris Thomas
A potential conflict between the contract for the Ottawa Coliseum sports complex and the Ottawa Renegades’ season has caused Coliseum management to seek a solution in talks with the city.
The Coliseum, located at Lansdowne Park, sets up a giant dome in Frank Clair stadium each winter and runs indoor sports leagues such as indoor soccer, ultimate frisbee and track and field.
The group’s contract with the city gives it access to the field around Nov. 15. Usually the Coliseum sets up its dome then.
With the Renegades failing to make the playoffs, the dome will go up as planned this year. However, next year the Renegades’ season could run past this date, as well as in 2004 when the city hosts the Grey Cup.
Because the Grey Cup game will take place at Frank Clair stadium in late November, the Coliseum will have to set up the dome later than mentioned in its contract, which would push back the start dates for the Coliseum’s winter leagues.
According to Ian Martin, president of the Coliseum, having a firm start date is necessary because the dates for leagues have to be set in advance.
“There’s no point in having a league if you can’t assure people it will start on that date,” he says. “Everybody has an expectation in the community at large that we will run a full season.”
Martin also says a set date is needed because of the logistics of erecting the dome, which requires organizing nearly 100 volunteers and heavy equipment.
Doug Moore, manager of venture properties for the city, says he understands the Coliseum’s desire to have a fixed start date. However, since the Coliseum’s contract only specifies a start date of around Nov. 15, he says to give a fixed date “we would have to redo the wording on the existing lease agreement.”
If that were the case, it could mean having to re-open the Coliseum’s contract with the city to further negotiation.
Moore adds that “concurrent programming is always an issue” for the city and says he hopes a solution will be found.
Martin says that if a solution can’t be reached, the Coliseum’s contract has an arbitration clause that either party can invoke.
In that case, both parties would enter into legal arbitration to sort out the contract. However, Martin says he hopes that won’t be necessary.
“We’re hoping to resolve these matters amicably, like we always have, in the spirit of co-operation and friendship. We’ve met with the [city] on a number of occasions, drawn attention to the issue.”
Martin did not comment on what the details of such a solution could entail.
Richard Haycock, manager of Lansdowne Park, confirmed that the city has spoken with the Coliseum’s management about the contract, but saying only that “it’s an ongoing issue and we’d like to see it brought to a constructive conclusion.”
Martin stressed that the Coliseum has worked in the past with both the city and the football franchise, noting that they had teamed up with the Renegades to offer training camps and other activities.
“Right now we’re not at daggers with anyone, we’re trying to sort it out as tenants,” he says. “We just want to do our business.”