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Senators still working on outdoor game, but Parliament Hill’s rules could pose problem

The Ottawa Senators still haven’t been given the green light for an outdoor game on Parliament Hill, but they’re not looking at other options for the game despite facing some serious hurdles.

Though it hasn’t been given the stamp of approval, the Ottawa Senators’ proposed outdoor game on Parliament Hill is an event that’s 100 years in the making. The only issue is that Parliament Hill rules could prevent the game from happening.

The plan for the outdoor game is to have a rink placed on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill for a game that would, in all likelihood, pit the hometown Senators against the visiting Montreal Canadiens. The idea, of course, is to commemorate 100 years of NHL hockey by having a “rematch” between the two teams that played in the league’s inaugural contest, though there appears to be a number of rules for Parliament Hill’s usage facing the game.

Amidst the concerns about building a rink and placing seating on the grounds, CBC’s Joanne Chianello pointed out that playing an NHL game — with paid attendance, food and alcohol sales and, oh, you know, sports — is against the general rules of use for Parliament Hill.

Last updated in July 2016, the general rules on Parliament Hill’s use prohibit organized sports, food sales, alcohol sales, admission fees, advertising, props and noise levels about 65 decibels. According to the website, the rules are in place to “ensure the security of the general public and to maintain the integrity of this National Historic Site, where general respect for Canadian society and its democratic institutions is essential.”

Chianello reported that some events on Parliament Hill have seen the rules overturned, including other, friendly sporting events throughout the year, but putting an NHL game on Parliament Hill would require the committee tasked with deciding on the allowance of such things to look the other way on a number of the protocols put in place.

However, one would have to imagine that the league and the Senators are well aware of the hurdles between the league and a Parliament Hill game. The first talk of an outdoor game in Ottawa dates back to February 2016, when Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said that NHL officials had been to the city to look into how possible it would be to play an outdoor game on Parliament Hill.

It was reported in May that the NHL was still interested in putting the game on Parliament Hill, but commissioner Gary Bettman told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that doing so was “complicated and expensive,” and more research into it would have to be done before an answer was given. 

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly has also said an outdoor game in Ottawa didn’t necessarily have to be played on Parliament Hill, and the city could be awarded a game at another location, but Senators president Cyril Leeder told TSN 1200 that the franchise isn't really looking at hosting the game elsewhere.

“There’s really only one option we’ve been working on and that’s to try to find a way to make that game work on Parliament Hill,” Leeder told TSN 1200. “That’s complicated and complex. We’ve been working with the league and some federal officials on trying to make that work. That work continues in earnest…(TD Place) is not an option we’ve looked at, at all, in any detail and we’ve been really focused on the Hill.”

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