Over the years, the Ottawa Senators have given NHL fans in the National Capital Region plenty to cheer about.
© Michael Curran
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk addresses reporters after announcing the Sens Foundation has contributed $100 million back to the community
On Tuesday, with the club starting to sell preseason and opening weekend tickets, local politicians paid tribute to the organization for its efforts off the ice. The club announced that the Senators and their charitable arm, the Ottawa Senators Foundation, have surpassed the $100-million mark in community contributions.
That total includes more than $59 million in community projects, more than $25 million in contributions to charities and minor hockey and more than $21 million in community programs and in-kind donations.
“The Senators Foundation has made Ottawa a much better place,” Mayor Jim Watson told the crowd assembled for the occasion at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said the charity group has touched hundreds of thousands of lives in the Ottawa region, noting about half of all local residents have either benefited from or participated in the organization’s community projects.
Among those initiatives are Roger’s House, a pediatric respite and palliative care facility on the grounds of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario; the Senators Soiree, an annual cocktail party in support of youth wellness programs where guests mingle with players, coaches and management; and the Rink of Dreams, an outdoor public skating pad near City Hall.
“Together, we have accomplished a great deal,” said Mr. Melnyk, who later took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness of Lou Gehrig’s Disease along with Sens defenceman Erik Karlsson.
“From an ownership perspective, we have the greatest fans in the world. And I believe that giving back to them in the form of our community work is the sincerest way for everyone in the Senators family to say thank you.”
The city’s business community has played a key role in helping the organization hit such a significant milestone, said Jonathan Bodden, the foundation’s director of business development and corporate sponsorships.
Nearly 100 corporate partners work with the Senators and their charitable foundation, ranging from groups who buy tables at the team’s annual charity golf tournament to major sponsors of events such as the soiree and the Roger’s House Telethon.
“There’s a good return for them in terms of being closely aligned with this brand,” he said. “But beyond that, the community initiatives that we’re doing I think are very important to a lot of people in this city.”
A University of Ottawa economic impact study released earlier this year said the Senators and their partner companies directly and indirectly contribute more than $204 million a year to the region’s economy.