One city, one voice: Uncovering Ottawa’s plans for becoming a global sporting destination
Ottawa might not be the first name that springs to mind when one thinks of great Canadian sporting cities. Sandwiched between Toronto and Montreal, two urban centres of greater size and international renown, Canada’s national capital has often found itself overshadowed by its larger neighbours.
Yet this political and cultural hub has been finding its voice in recent years. Self-styled as ‘Canada in one city’, Ottawa has long been revered for its plethora of museums, art galleries, cultural attractions and the world-famous Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the city that is home to the world’s largest skating rink. Today, however, elite and grassroots sport of all kinds are playing a central role in putting Ottawa on the map.
“We are the one place in Canada that best represents the entire country,” says Michael Crockatt, the chief executive of Ottawa Tourism. “By virtue of being the capital, we have all of the history, the arts, the culture, even the geography of the whole country represented in one place. If someone is coming from an international market, this city really is the one place where they can experience all of Canada.”
An easily accessible, compact, safe and bilingual city of one million residents, Ottawa is home to several professional sports teams, including the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League (CFL), and the Ottawa Blackjacks of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). The newest additions to its pro sports lineup are Atlético Ottawa, an expansion franchise in soccer’s Canadian Premier League (CPL) that was founded last year, and the forthcoming Ottawa Aces, who are set to join England’s Rugby Football League (RFL) in 2022.
Those teams reside in major arenas and stadiums, namely Canadian Tire Centre, the long-time home of the Senators, and TD Place at Lansdowne, a sprawling sports and entertainment district that includes a 24,000-capacity stadium and 10,000-seat indoor arena. Ottawa also boasts university and college sports fields among its varied and extensive infrastructure. Together, those venues have welcomed an impressive range and number of events in recent years, enabling Ottawa to punch above its weight and begin to compete with other Canadian cities for major sporting occasions.