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New study shows Ottawa Senators pour big bucks back into economy

The Ottawa Senators are a major player when it comes to impact on the local economy.

A new study by the University of Ottawa finds the team has directly and indirectly generated $3-billion for the Ottawa-Gatineau economy over its 21-year history.

According to research, Senators Sports and Entertainment directly contributes around $100-million per year, but if you add ripple effects, that figure is more like $204-million.

The study focused on the impact of the group by looking at activities that took place at the Canadian Tire Centre and Sensplex facility, including concerts and the Bell Capital Cup. It also included income generated by the hockey team, the Ottawa Senators Foundation, the Rink of Dreams and Rogers House.

Lead researcher and former University of Ottawa Professor Norm O'Reilly said the figures were conservative, but reliable.

"I'm very confident this number's real," he said. "They may have wanted a higher number. I don't know, but it gives you an idea of the value of a team ... when they're the only team in the market. If there was also an NBA team here, you'd have to take those numbers with a bit of a grain of salt."

Sens president Cyril Leeder said the study cements something they always knew.

"It's reaffirming what we've believed and thought for a long time, is that the team is more than just a hockey team," said Leeder. "It's an economic generator. It's important to the business community and it's great to now have some empirical evidence and some hard facts that would support that."

But Mayor Jim Watson said despite the team's economic contributions, it doesn't make a difference when it comes down to business decisions like the casino debate.

"No, I don't think so, because we've known all along that the Senators are an important player in the community and I think the one thing that we discovered over the whole debate over the casino was that there was precious little support for a casino anywhere in the city, and what we ended up doing was coming up with a plan that was probably the most acceptable by the largest number of people in the community," said Watson.

The study also found that the team contributes way more than just money Ottawa-Gatineau -- programming like Sens@School make lasting impressions on the community.

"It would impact Ottawa if the team left. Would it end the city? Absolutely not," said O'Reilly. "What really surprised me and out team was the power of the intangible stuff ... different really positive things that this organization that does for the city, whether it's pride, attachment, potential tourists in the future, willingness to move here."

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