Senators’ losses higher than reported: Melnyk

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk says the Ottawa Senators have lost $110 million since he took over the team 10 years ago.

Senators’ losses higher than reported: Melnyk
Ottawa Senator owner Eugene Melnyk during a press scrum following city council debating and then voting to choose Rideau Carleton Raceway for the location of an expanded casino. (Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen)

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk says the Ottawa Senators have lost $110 million since he took over the team 10 years ago.

In August, senior team officials told the Citizen that the franchise has generated a grand total of just $6 million on operations (total revenues minus the costs associated with paying and moving the players, advertising and managing the arena).

After subtracting further items such as interest on the team’s debt and capital expenditures, they revealed Melnyk has had to absorb cumulative cash losses of $94 million, or an average of $9 million to $10 million a year. That, the Citizen reported, excluded the additional interest and fees related to the debt extensions.

In an appearance on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa the day before his team was set to hit the ice for its home opener, Melnyk insisted the total was actually much higher.

He again insisted fans don’t need to worry about the team moving, however, adding the franchise is currently working with Mayor Jim Watson’s office to “correct” an ongoing spat over the eventual location of a new casino for the city. Council favours the Rideau-Carleton Raceway, while Melnyk has been lobbying to connect it to the arena.

As for the newly-named Canadian Tire Centre, Melnyk said the team was preparing to invest even more, with plans to eventually reduce the number of luxury suites there.

Ultimately, he suggested, the team plans to replace some of those luxury boxes with “terraces,” where fans can sit down and eat while watching the game.

“We’re going to have to put some money into this building, but this building, we spend millions of dollars a year in keeping it maintained, so we’ve done a good job in maintaining it.

“It’s just going to need some upgrades and I recognize that.”

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