2008 Dead.

DAVID NAYLOR
May 15, 2007

OTTAWA -- The Canadian Football League's efforts at returning to Ottawa for the 2008 season are dead, according to league sources.

The CFL has spent the past several months negotiating with former CFL player Bill Palmer, who represents one of three groups that expressed interest in an Ottawa franchise last summer.

But those efforts have fallen short largely because the two sides couldn't make the economics of operating a franchise work.

Palmer is expected to officially inform the league of his group's decision to withdraw this week. He confirmed last month that his group had an agreement in principle with the CFL, contingent on a suitable arrangement with the city of Ottawa regarding Frank Clair Stadium. However, his group is unwilling to meet a deadline next week to move forward.

The CFL's bid to return three-down professional football to Ottawa was launched last summer, roughly three months after the four-year-old Renegades franchise was folded under the ownership of Bernie and Lonie Glieberman.

The commissioner at the time, Tom Wright, insisted the CFL hoped to be back in time for the 2007 season. One expression of interest was rejected, while another withdrew in October because of an illness to its primary backer. That left the league negotiating with Palmer and his U.S.-based partners, who had no interest in the 2007 season.

From the outset, however, there were challenges to making Ottawa expansion viable.

For one, no one has been able to make a dime on CFL football in Ottawa since the mid-1970s. And second, the league's existing clubs were not eager to split the revenue from their new, five-year, $80-million television deal nine ways instead of eight. Adding a ninth franchise would mean $233,000 less in yearly television revenue for each of the existing eight clubs.

To compensate for that, the league was seeking a significant franchise fee, which has been reported to be in the range of $6-million.

Palmer's group sought to recoup some of that by proposing to refurbish and then take over management of Frank Clair Stadium, a strategy that would potentially cut costs and raise revenue.

The group decided, however, that it could not be assured of being able to support the costs of running a CFL team.

The end of Palmer's bid will raise the question whether the CFL will try to go to Ottawa once more. Some league governors would like to see the league expand by two teams, although no other city in Canada has a stadium suitable for CFL games.

"It's important we seriously consider bringing a team back to Ottawa," new commissioner Mark Cohon said when he was hired last month. "We are thinking of creating a strong league, eventually, coast-to-coast."

Also open to speculation is the football future of Palmer's son, Jesse, a former National Football League backup who is under contract to the Montreal Alouettes.

Palmer recently informed the Als he would not report to training camp if he was slated to be a backup. It was widely believed he would have been the quarterback of the Ottawa franchise in 2008.

As with everything else in this saga, I'd like to see some specifics. Is Palmer's problem dealing with the league, or dealing with the city? If the city still wants to give this team the worst lease in the CFL (like the old one), its hard to blame Palmer for backing out.

The city council there doesn't really want a team, they don't want anyone to make any money from a football team. You can't blame the CFL IMHO.

This is sad. And I don't mean 'sad' as in, "boo hoo, I'm sad there won't be football in Ottawa." - I'm long past that stage. I mean 'sad' as in pathetic.

Pathetic that the City of Ottawa can't see the value in having a successful sports franchise in the city - a highly visible business which, if successful, reinforces the City's reputation as a friendly locale for other businesses. How very telling that the City chose not to have a Grey Cup Parade in 2004.

Pathetic that the other owners in the CFL can't get past their short-term greed in the interests of long-term gain. Not wanting to share television revenues now means the CFL will, for the foreseeable future, remain an 8-team runt of a league - not the 10-team league it can and should be.

Pathetic that the CFL itself allowed this situation to happen in the first place, bringing back the Gliebermans and then not keeping itself abreast of the financial zoo they ran. How hard is it to keep tabs on 9 teams?

Pathetic how the CFL has been so tight lipped about the entire process of keeping CFL football alive in Ottawa, as if the fans were an after-thought, to be taken for granted. "We want a team in Ottawa," they said, meanwhile, racheting up the ludicrous franchise fee to make it all but impossible for that to actually happen.

About the only thing not pathetic in this entire, sordid tale are the fans of CFL football in Ottawa - long abused, and not just by the CFL, but by other fans of other CFL teams who delight in blaming Rough Rider/Renegade fans for all the troubles this team has had, conveniently forgetting that many thousands of fans have stubbornly kept coming out to the games, year after year, despite the many decades of mismanagement both on and off the field, and despite the complete lack of respect they've been shown by the CFL and the many inept ownership groups which have come and gone.

Screw you, CFL.

Screw you Ottawa city council, I'll never spend a dime in your city again. Good luck to your Sens, that's all you have. To sit in an enclosed arena, not in the great outdoors watching the CFL, a great Canadian tradition. Bye, bye city council.

What Ottawa council fails to realize is the tax revenue generated by a Sports team. Just like the Canucks and Lions, I'm sure the Sens and Rens generated lots of "Indirect" revenue at Resteraunt and Pubs. The Hotel and Bar Association estimates that the Pro teams in the CFL & NHL generate a million dollars of revenue each home game.

Too bad Ottawa Council can't see that.

Civic politicians have a hard time getting their heads around the economic benefits of pro sports teams. Period!

And that is fair enough bobby when there are important matters in cities to be dealth with ie. new sewers to be replaced, roads etc. The fact is no city needs any pro sports team. However, if a business plan is put together to try and make some money from stadiums and a team in some way, then this is good. Difficult to make money on stadiums though and you need to factor in intangibles into it ie. bringing people together in a city and that. Ultimately it would be best if multi,multi millionaires just want to have some fun and build a new stadium. But how many leagues really make that kind of money for a pro sports owner to justify them spending their money on a stadium for the team they own? Not many.

Hold the phone here....in one sentence, they are saying football returning in 2008 is done. Then I just read on the TSN site from the Commish: "Several parties have recently expressed strong interest regarding a franchise for Ottawa, and we have decided to concentrate our efforts on these new opportunities".

So why cant they still get the proper person in place in time for 2008? As long as they choose an owner by August, there's plenty of time. Whats the problem here??

If one of these 'parties' is Frank D'Angelo, he could get things up and running in no time. I support D'Angelo 100%, and have since the outset.

How about Screw you City of Ottawa, Screw you for making any CFL team pay the highest stadium rent/fee in the league. Making the stadium stay vacant instead of full.

the CFL had nothing to do with this failing, Palmer agreed to the CFL with the franchise fee/deposit. and would still be receiving TV revenues, 50% more TV revenues then the old renegades.
If the team started off with league min in player salaries(3M) they could build a core of players. But they can't make money if the City of Ottawa is trying to make the team pay what? 2-3M a year on the stadium for usage, not including all the expenses that are needed(game day, upgrades)

The City of Ottawa killed this Deal, so go complain to your City council about why they couldn't help the CFL come back to town.

Also it's Frank Clair Stadiums fault, Naming rights can't get sold(couple hundred K$ a year), it is one of the oldest and likely in worst condition stadium across the league.
I can't find the number of Luxury boxes apparently there is a couple, but they are in bad bad shape not near luxurious.

Might aswell build a new 30K seat stadium similar to BMO field in TO then go back to Frank Clair stadium.

as for the fans, yes they have had horrid owners. But the fans completely bailed on the team in 2005 under 6K season ticket holders in June(which is when the Gliebermans bought the team)
They had a young team with Stars and not a joke ownership group yet. but 17K fans decided Season tickets weren't worth it anymore.
Had those fans stuck around the Gliebermans would never have gained control in all odds, except the major issue(frank Clair Stadium) was still there.

If the previous ownership group wasn't paying what? 2.5-3M$? more then the Rogers center when they were killing the Argos.

Now the Argos have what seems a better deal, but in 2004 both the Argos and Gades had bad deals except somehow the GADES WERE APPARENTLY PAYING MORE!
I wonder if that could be a reason, is that the CFL's fault? the CFL's fault your City doesn't want a team? Perhaps the fans do but the City council of Ottawa does not want a team in Ottawa.

Stephen Brunt offers some details as to what caused Palmer to walk away.

As part of the league's sales pitch, to help them in doing the math, the group was provided with an estimate of how much it would cost to run a team on an annual basis. But they also understood that taking that number as gospel was one of the major mistakes made by the guys who gave life to the Ottawa Renegades, then watched them quickly bleed to death, convinced in the end that they'd been sold a pig in a poke.

And so in search of the unfettered truth, the latest would-be Ottawa buyers looked to Regina.

Community ownership has long been a tradition of the CFL, most notably in the Prairie provinces, and those teams once a year are required to open the books and answer questions as to how the franchise is operated. It's a level of transparency all but unique in professional sports.

When the Saskatchewan Roughriders, never counted among the league's biggest spenders, went to the people this spring, [b]the ballpark cost for the past season was reported at $15-million.

That was the killing blow right there, a significantly larger number than the league's blue-sky projection, one that Palmer and company felt they just couldn't make work, no matter what kind of stadium deal they might negotiate.[/b] So this week, they sent a letter to new CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, announcing they were walking away.


Okay, NOW I'm gone. :wink:

lol way to go, Riders, you screwed ottawa good.

haha, well ya if you spend like Drunken Sailors.

An expansion team should not be spending more then 3M on players salaries and should not have the highest paid coaching or executive staff either.

Major reasons Ottawas numbers where high:
5M in player expenses
Firing of Shivers(thus having to pay him and Tillman at the same time)
Expenses of the Temp seating for rolling stone concerts(which increased their Revenues alot too)

Player expenses difference alone means if Ottawa was operate the same but with 3M in player salaries the team expenses would be 3M, but they would need a very good stadium deal.

preferably a new stadium.

oh yeah, doesn't help that Sask has one of the 3 highest Travel costs in the league(with Winnipeg and BC)
That's something Ottawa wouldn't have to worry about so much, as most their games are Bus-able.

Again - this is a case of the ownership group walking away from the CFL, NOT the CFL screwing over Ottawa.

I disagree with an expansion team spending the minimum on salaries, mostly because they should be competitive in the first year.

What are a CFL team's expenses? Salaries, stadium rental, travel ... What else? Also, didn't the Riders spend a good $5M on salaries last year?

yup Kev they did. They spent 5M+ but alot was Bonuses on contracts to be under the cap in future years.(not sure who they re-signed though lol)

But Kev, an expansion team should be a young team. Now you want a star, but the Min is 3M
So having a team full of top young prospects + 8 vets means the team should compete in year 1 and grow in year 2-3.
Average player salaries to be at 3M is 65K
Or
54-55K with two Star players(250K so 500K combined on those top 2)

oh yeah of major expenses your missing:
Game day(for Edmonton that was 1.5M, but they made 2.5M on game days)
Front Office/Managment
Coaches/Training staff
possibly scouting/Training camp(that's where Edmonton spent 1.5M)
Equipment

Players take up under 1/3 of total team expenses.. or atleast are supposed to with the 4M cap.

How much time would a new ownership group need to get a team ready for 2008, assuming a deal could be reached with the city regarding the stadium? Realistically? There is an entire year before the opening week of the 2008 season.

The Renegades were awarded in October 2001 and took the field in 2002 so that time frame is doable.

It should be pointed out that the league's own release only says that they've given up on 2008 with Palmer. It doesn't say that they've given up on 2008 completely should a new owner be able to get going soon. I don't think it'll happen, but technically, 2008 isn't completely written off.

Palmer had made it clear he wanted to ahve a team by the start of training camp. I guess he wanted to simulate a full season from beginning to end.

hey ravenwood, your name isn't mike is it? just to answer your question re. doability to be up and running. in my opinion, having been close to the situation in '02, any owner will need to be granted the keys to the franchise by october, however you have to consider reebok timelines now that you didn't have to 5 years ago.they should be granted the keys to the franchise no later than labour day, to hire a staff, not necessarily coaches but marketing, tix
football support staff-remember they have no equipment anymore,all the other teams had an opportunity to pick from the gades gear in the spring.

              city legend

No - not Mike. Sorry!

Well, if they need an owner in place by Labour Day, that's pretty tight timing. Basically, 2 months. I'm sure it can be done, if the city and the league are both serious about getting an agreement in place. I'd hate to miss 3 seasons.

As happy as I am to be watching football again, it's tough watching this opening week knowing your team isn't participating.

wake up and smell the coffee. 2008 is too late. 2010 is more realistic. Ottawa needs to build a world class practice facility that is indoors and includes outdoor fields. Your stadium needs upgrading, it lacks luxury suites, concessions, video boards, decent bleachers, etc.