As I’m sure you’ve read, the Ottawa Senators and the National Capital Commission have reached a preliminary land-transfer agreement, paving the way for a new hockey arena in downtown Ottawa. To commemorate the event, the NCC released the following concept image:
There’s a lot going on here, and it demands a breakdown.
…but first thing’s first: let nothing I’m about to say detract from how exciting this prospect is. We’ve been talking about how the arena is too far for literally two decades. Having a modern-looking downtown arena will make going to Sens games more fun, not to mention more likely. It’s awesome. But quite separate from that discussion is a discussion about how this concept image looks like something you’d see on the back of a Sega CD game case after you took a fistful of acid and conjured a Sega CD game case from memory.
Let’s start with the main attraction: the arena itself.
Okay, cool, cool. It’s got some indoor wood, which continues Canada’s unbroken streak of reminding everyone that we are a nation of trees. I can live with that. If the AGO and our own football arena do it, then that’s fine, even if this aesthetic flourish has the shelf-life of carpeting in the 1980s or people who built their modern in-fills with corrugated metal like five years ago. Let’s admit it: for a team whose aesthetics have been QUESTIONABLE since like 1996, doing what literally everybody else does was always going to be the best-case scenario. Let’s not let the makers of the SNES jersey get too creative, here.
Obvious caveat: that better not be the team’s fucking logo when this monstrosity is completed, but if it is, guaranteed, 100%, the team will have added a swoopy white halo thing around it as appears here.
And speaking of that logo, the building is on some kind of 1/3 perspective but the logo is flush to the “camera” and super big so it’s cut off, like a big ‘DRAFT’ water stamp on a Word document, which is convenient, because this image was created in Word. It kind of has the feel of “we cut and paste an arena and then to make sure you know this is YOUR arena, we cut and paste your team’s logo on it.”
Again, this is fine. What can we assume from this? There won’t be a giant fucking logo on the side of the building, for sure.
Panning down a bit, we see the entrance to the building and what looks like four tents or utility sheds. I like how the artist didn’t try to make the tents or sheds seem like something the crowds of people would be interested in – they’re just sheds. People will walk through them or otherwise line up to get inside. Also, they will be red because Canada, and they will say Ottawa Senators on them because Ottawa Senators. I have zero idea what’s going on on the roofs of the sheds, or inside the upper right shed. “Meet me at the sheds!” will not be a thing that people will say.
Okay, now we’re playing acid jazz. You’ve got an asymmetrical skating rink, complete with piles of snow that have been pushed off to the side because there’s nowhere to dispose of it; actual NHL players sort of skating around, celebrating for some reason; a band playing in the middle of the hockey rink without the aid of amplification; and several fans who, despite the total lack of security, are politely watching from what looks like red carpeting.
We can only assume this is the Missing Chiclets, or possibly their children, trapped inside what appear to be beams of pure energy or possibly water cannons. They are also wearing short sleeves in what is apparently winter. This seems like a terrible gig.
Several ghosts celebrate with confetti, including the Force Spirits of Anakin, Yoda and Obi-Wan. Off to the left, it looks like Jackie Onassis is pointlessly standing in the snow instead of on the red carpet, and a lone Senator appears to be throwing a puck over the glass into the crowd, though there’s no glass, and there’s no crowd. WERNER HERZOG VOICE: “It is a theater of the absurd, designed to draw attention to the fact that hockey, as a pastime, is a social construct and we, as passive audience members, are whiling away what little time we have.”
A dejected goaltender without a net just sort of skating around, looking like he was just scored on though, as we’ve established, there is no game except the one in his mind.
Not to be outdone by the weird unsatisfying skating rink involving several jagged boards and extremely pointy edges, the arena also features: 1) a dock, for those who wish to sail to the game, 2) river access, which makes the weirdly dangerous rink even more pointless because, according to this picture, you can skate on the river, and 3) of course, a gigantic projection of the unpopular logo onto the ice from a projector in the sky. The logo, as is tradition, is off-center and too big to entirely fit the surface onto which it’s projected.
This dark corner of the concept is very mysterious. Along with several dead trees and what looks like either an empty set of stands or possibly a pile of folding chairs or even an army of Japanese apparitions from Spirited Away, we have some people kind of hanging out. Three of them, possibly tourists, look at the chairs. “Do you think they make those chairs in Canada?” they ask themselves in their German accents, and then go for dinner and talk about how they should have gone to Massachusetts on vacation instead.
Speaking of desolate, dystopian emptiness, where is this supposed to be, anyway? QUESTION: Is the new Ottawa Senators arena going to be in Ottawa?
I’m not sure if the NCC’s plan includes several multi-story skyscrapers, which I’m fine with, but I’m mostly interested in what that weird, cube-like intelligence hovering on the horizon is supposed to be. Is it pointing out or sucking in? Is that a starburst of energy radiating from its foreboding exterior? I’ve looked at this thing for like five minutes and I can’t tell what it is or where it begins or ends.
ALL HAIL THE CUBE.
Finally, you have a parking lot, which will be empty because nobody will need to drive because the arena is downtown.
There you have it folks: the thing we have all been asking for, for twenty years. Ottawa being Ottawa, we took this moment, and we sort of slapped together a thing that approximated what we’ve all been talking about, like a parent so afraid to say the wrong thing in front of their kids’ friends that they just blurt out the most nonsensical thing possible.
And it’s…fine. It’s all fine. The underlying concept remains awesome. You’ll be able to walk home from a game, or even *GASP* go out afterward! The execution is a bit muddy, but in the end, we’ll all be together downtown. It’s going to be great.
I’ll see you at The Sheds!