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Senators announce potentially ‘iconic and historic’ Parliament Hill game a no-go

So much for the outdoor game on Parliament Hill. The Ottawa Senators announced Friday that, after 18 months of work, it has been determined that a game can’t happen on the grounds.

The months-long speculation surrounding a possible outdoor game on Parliament Hill has ended with an unfortunate conclusion for the Ottawa Senators, as the team announced Friday that the potential open-air contest on Parliament’s front lawn is a no-go.

For more than a year, the NHL, Senators and Canadian Government have reportedly been engaged in talks to bring an outdoor game to Parliament Hill as part of the league’s centennial celebrations and a tie-in to Canada’s 150th anniversary. However, the logistics of the game have made putting it on the grounds near impossible and it has been decided that the location won’t be able to host the contest, which would have pit the Montreal Canadiens against the hometown Senators.

“Despite the hard work of the NHL and the Government of Canada over the past 18 months, the Ottawa Senators are disappoint for all Canadian hockey fans that we will not have the opportunity to witness an NHL Outdoor Game on Parliament Hill,” the team said in a statement. “To host a game on Parliament Hill would have been iconic and historic and, in our view, the best way to cap off the year-long celebrations in 2017 to honour both the league’s Centennial and Canada’s 150th.”

The news that the game has been nixed is not altogether surprising given just how difficult it would have been for the game to take place, and doubly so when considering the exemptions the league would have needed from usage protocols for Parliament Hill. CBC News’ Joanne Chianello reported in September that an event with paid attendance and food and alcohol sales was against Parliament Hill’s usage protocols, as is hosting a sporting event.

The strikes against the NHL and Senators’ proposed outdoor game go beyond the normal protocols, though.

In a statement to CBC News, Pierre-Olivier Herbert, a spokesman for Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, said that, “the highly complex environment regarding events on Parliament Hill, including the need for the uninterrupted operations of parliamentary business, public access and security, a full-stadium NHL game was deemed not feasible.”

With the Parliament Hill locale nixed, the Senators will now be tasked with finding another site for the game. One possibility is TD Place, the home of the CFL’s Ottawa RedBlacks, but the intention has never been to play the game at the stadium, despite the stadium being arguably the most sensible host.

“(TD Place) is not an option we’ve looked at, at all, in any detail and we’ve been really focused on the Hill,” Senators' president Cyril Leeder told TSN 1200 in September.

Now that Parliament Hill is off the table, though, the Senators’ best option might be to reconsider the football stadium.

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