Frank Clair Stadium
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011)|
|Frank Clair Stadium|
|Location||Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, Ontario|
|Owner||City of Ottawa|
|Surface||1908 - 1983 grass
1984 - 2000 AstroTurf
2001 - present FieldTurf
|Ottawa Rough Riders (CFL) (1908-1996)
Ottawa Renegades (CFL) (2002-2005)
University of Ottawa Gee-Gees (CIS)
Carleton University Ravens (CIS)
Ottawa Junior Riders (QJFL) (1997-2006)
2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup
Ottawa Giants (IA 1951)
Ottawa Athletics (IA, 1952-1954)
Ottawa RedBlacks (CFL) (2014-future)
Ottawa Fury FC (2014-future)
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|Frank Clair Stadium|
|Ottawa Civic Centre|
|Ottawa Rough Riders|
Frank Clair Stadium is a 24,000 seat stadium currently being renovated in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It is located in Lansdowne Park, on the southern edge of The Glebe neighbourhood, where Bank Street crosses the Rideau Canal. When renovations are complete, it will be the home of the Ottawa RedBlacks of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Ottawa Fury FC of the North American Soccer League (NASL).
The stadium was the home of the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League from 1908 to 1996, when the team ceased operations. It was the home of the Ottawa Renegades from 2002 until 2005. A previous incarnation of the stadium served as the home venue of the Ottawa Giants minor-league baseball franchise.
The stadium is also home to University of Ottawa's Ottawa Gee-Gees, and prior to the disbanding of the Ravens football programme at Carleton University in 1998, was the site of the Panda Bowl, when these rivals played each other with rowdy fans hurling insults across both sides of the stadium. At the Panda Bowl game in 1987, the game (forfeited) was marred by an accident when at least 25 students were injured when a section of railing collapsed.
The final Panda Bowl game was in 1997, the year following the departure of the Riders from Ottawa.
A grandstand was built on the north side of the playing field in 1908, as part of the Ottawa Exposition Grounds. It was demolished in the 1960s to build the current Civic Centre complex. The new north-side stands are located on the roof of the adjacent Ottawa Civic Centre hockey arena. A small grandstand was built in the 1920s on the south-side of the field, and it was replaced in 1960. A second deck for the south-side was added during the 1970s. As of 2008, prior to lower south-side demolition, the overall stadium had a 30,927 capacity for football. The lower section of the south-side stands, the section built in 1960, was demolished in July 2008. The upper section of the south-side stands were demolished from November 2011 to January 2012.
For many years, the stadium was known simply as Lansdowne Park, after the fairgrounds in which it was located. It was renamed in 1993 to honour Frank Clair, coach and general manager for the Ottawa Rough Riders during the 1960s and 1970s.
In the late 1990s, the stadium was threatened with demolition when then-mayor Jim Watson led a drive by the municipal government to allow a private developer to reconfigure Lansdowne Park. The proposals submitted all called for residences to be built on the site of the football stadium. Massive public opposition and the realization that the end of the stadium would mean the end of hopes to return CFL football to the capital led the regional government to step in and end the scheme.
In September 2007, the lower south side was closed, due to cracks in the concrete structure. After the closure of the stands, ex-Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien was quoted at the time that this was an opportunity to do a review of the usage and the facilities of Lansdowne Park. Subsequently a process was started called "Design Lansdowne" to get public consultations on the Park and the stadium. After an engineering study of the north-side and south-side grandstands, the south-side stands were condemned. The lower section of the stands was demolished by controlled implosion on July 20, 2008 at 8:03 AM.
During the summer of 2008, a consortium of investors was formed to pursue a new CFL team in Ottawa. They bid successfully and received a conditional franchise from the CFL, with the condition that the stadium would need to be upgraded before the franchise could be activated. Jeff Hunt, one of the principal investors and owner of the Ottawa 67's who play in the attached Urbandale Centre, says the venue and location are ideal, with over a million people in Ottawa. The organization has reportedly already pre-sold 5,000 season tickets.
In the fall of 2008, the consortium, known as Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, (OSEG) approached the City with a plan to redevelop Lansdowne Park and rebuild the stadium using the proceeds from turning a section of the park into commercial and retail space. The plan, entitled Lansdowne Live! was ambitious and included plans to redevelop all sections of the park. The City, which had received a competing stadium proposal for Kanata, reviewed the plans and agreed to a conditional agreement with OSEG. OSEG would concentrate on the stadium and commercial/residential precinct, and Ottawa would return the rest of Lansdowne Park to green space. Faced with opposition to the plan, the City proceeded slowly with the proposal, seeking out legal opinions, traffic studies, and an urban park design competition for Lansdowne.
In June 2010 it was announced that the Ottawa City Council had approved a redevelopment plan put forward by the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) to renovate Frank Clair Stadium and build 350,000 sq ft (33,000 m2). of commercial retail space as well as 250 housing units and an urban park on the site. The stadium, which is the catalyst to bringing the CFL back to Ottawa will be rent-free to developers for 30 years. Proceeds from the retail and commercial precinct would be shared, and the retail and commercial precinct brought under City control after 30 years. Completion of the stadium is scheduled for 2014, with the overall development finished in 2015.
The OSEG proposal for the stadium envisioned tearing down all of the south-side stands, replacing the stands with a new structure with private boxes and a unique wood-wrapping around the exterior. The north-side stands would be renovated to current standards, and the north-side exterior expanded to include a retail component. In September 2010, the Ottawa Fury joined the plan to redevelop Lansdowne. On June 20, 2011, Ottawa was awarded a professional soccer franchise in the NASL which will start play in 2014 at Frank Clair Stadium.
In November 2011, demolition of the rest of the south side stands started. The contract to demolish the stands was awarded for $550,000. Unlike the lower stands, the upper stands structure is being demolished piece-by-piece rather than controlled implosion. The concrete and steel from the structure is to be recycled, and seats will be re-used at a new rink at Ottawa City Hall. Demolition is expected to be complete by January 2012.
Frank Clair Stadium has played host to five Grey Cup games, the first occasion being in 1925 when Ottawa won its first Grey Cup title. It later held Grey Cup games in 1939, 1967, and 1988, before playing host to the 92nd Grey Cup in 2004, in which the Toronto Argonauts defeated the BC Lions to become the 2004 CFL Champions.
During the winter months, a private company rents the field and places an inflated dome over the field area, renting the covered/heated surface for use by amateur sports teams.
In 1976, the stadium hosted some preliminary soccer matches for the Montreal Olympic Games.
In mid-2007, the stadium was one of six hosts in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Capacity is now listed at 28,826.
The last major concert at the stadium was in 2005, when The Rolling Stones performed in front of a crowd of 43,000.
References and notes
- 1976 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 2. pp. 230-3.
- 1976 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 3. pp. 279-87.
- "Ottawa closes stadium section due to cracks in structure". CBC News. September 6, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "NASL". Ottawafury.com. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- "Tear-down of Frank Clair's south stands begins". CTV News. November 4, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- Miller, Robyn (November 4, 2011). "Demolition begins at Lansdowne Park". 1310 News. Retrieved November 7, 2011.