Bravo, Cohon...


Thanks for representing the league, all of us included, with dignity and class. Whatever happens in Ottawa, you couldn't have done any better. If council decides they want to hand $75M to a rat like Melnyk, then the entire nest of them deserve each other.

Standing up for the CFL
Football, soccer can co-exist in Ottawa, Cohon says

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By Don Campbell, The Ottawa CitizenFebruary 12, 2009 10:17 PM

[i]OTTAWA-CFL commissioner Mark Cohon knows his sports well enough to distinguish the difference between a corner kick and a field goal, and he doesn’t want debate over a new sports stadium in Ottawa to become as simplified as a choice between football and soccer.

Cohon spent yesterday on Parliament Hill on business unrelated to the potential return of professional football to the national capital, but he also delivered the equivalent of a speech from the throne in an open letter on the proposed return of the CFL to Lansdowne Park.

In his letter, Cohon wrote that the the decision facing the city was about so much more than just a stadium locale.

He said the decision was about “building a stronger Ottawa, by building a special place to gather as a community and showcase what is best about (Ottawa).?

While Cohon says his CFL could co-exist with Major League Soccer at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, he also wants to ensure that the CFL’s point of view is seen by everyone as the process leads toward decision day, when city councillors must decide if, and where, the city’s next major sports venue should be built.

Cohon endorses the bid to revitalize Lansdowne Park through the “Lansdowne Live? project spearheaded by Ottawa 67’s owner Jeff Hunt and businessmen Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and William Shenkman.

The CFL franchise would be just an anchor tenant for the development, though a highly visible piece of the puzzle, and Cohon says he doesn’t want any misconceptions about the CFL in its current state clouding the city’s decision in the coming weeks.

The open letter covered “outdated perceptions? Cohon feels are being floated by those not in favour of the transformation of Lansdowne Park around a CFL expansion franchise for 2011.

“I have been reading different comments being made about the CFL which are not quite true,? Cohon said. “My job is to tell the proper story of the CFL. I want people to see the economic impact it would have.

“I get asked if the league will be around in 25 years. Well, it has never been stronger. We have set attendance records as old as 1993. Our TV ratings are second only to (NHL) hockey. And we have a strong stable of owners.

“I feel the people of Ottawa need a true picture of the CFL as what it is today, which is far different than when it left. I want people to be clear on the facts.?

The group officially known as Ottawa Sports Entertainment has submitted its entire proposal to city staff, Hunt said, and it is hoping the process will move forward in March.

Their proposal for a prime section of Ottawa real estate includes recreational areas, commercial and retail developments and a small residential component.

The Hunt group introduced its basic concepts for Lansdowne last fall and has been fine tuning it since then.

However, the entire process has been slightly slowed by a bid by Eugene Melnyk’s Senators Sports and Entertainment group to bring Major League Soccer to a proposed soccer-specific facility near Scotiabank Place.

The only thing everyone agrees on is that the city is neither big enough nor able to afford two similar stadiums each worth about $100 million.

Melnyk’s group has all but locked up a conditional MLS expansion franchise if an acceptable stadium is constructed. Several other potential competitors from across North America have dropped out of the running.

Senators Sports and Entertainment believes the two franchises could not co-exist in one facility under separate ownerships and one management group.

“We have been saying consistently that the two teams won’t work long-term in the same facility,? said Cyril Leeder, chief operating officer of Senators Sports and Entertainment COO Cyril Leeder. “This is based on our experience, knowledge and understanding of sports and entertainment and the Ottawa market.?

Leeder also puts forth the MLS blueprint for seeking owners with long-standing success in the operation of franchises in other professional leagues.

Several MLS owners also have interests in NFL, NHL or NBA franchises.

Hunt leaves open the door for the two to co-exist at Lansdowne, though his group has no interest in co-existing next to Scotiabank Place in Kanata.

Cohon next faces the CFL’s board of governors on March 3, 15 days before the deadline for the conditional expansion franchise to the Ottawa group.

The commissioner expects the governors will extend the deadline after he gives them an update on the Ottawa bid.

A new CFL franchise in Ottawa would be the city’s third. The Rough Riders folded after the 1996 season, and the Renegades’ four-year run ended early in 2006.

Hunt also said he hoped the debate didn’t come down to football versus soccer, both of which have their supporters and critics. Rather, he’d prefer the debate stays outside the sidelines and focuses on location, concept, feasibility, and what’s best for the city before it gets sport specific and ownership specific.

There are friends on both sides of the table here, and both groups will have to live in the same city long after the city’s decision is made, he said.

“Can anyone ever say when starting a business that they will never fail?? Hunt said. “Well no.

“But the one thing enormously different from previous (CFL team) ownership groups is that we are all from here and we cannot have a failure in this market. We all have too much at stake.

“We have reputations and other business interests. We are going to give this business opportunity every possible chance at success.?


I've probably mentioned this before, because it's a huge pet peeve of mine, but there are people I know who still make fun of CFL players because those players supposedly have to get day jobs to make ends meet. :roll:

Come on, man...Buy a calendar. You can get them for about a dollar this time of year...

The more work that Cohon does do dispel these perceptions, the better. The nice thing is he can actually back himself up statistically. That's a touch better than Melnyk saying "If I had to bet on which sport would still be here 25 years from now, I would choose soccer". Or making a ridiculous statement in a presentation that drawing $50M with MLS is "probably the equivalent of about six Grey Cups".

Splendid analysis, gentlemen. Take a bow. Meanwhile, Melnyk can't point to MLS ratings (because they blow) or the financial success of other teams (because most are losing money). He has absolutely no proving point besides high registration rates in soccer in the city, and the relevance of that is a little debatable.

Cohon did an excellent job of pointing out Melnyk's lies and the strength of the CFL. I like the fact that he was polite, while being frank. This should help with public opinion in Ottawa for the Hunt proposal.

Looks as if the best thing to happen to football in Ottawa is the soccer franchise, if the two can work together, they both have a chance to be successfull, . united they stand divided they fall??? who said that?

I've probably mentioned this before, because it's a huge pet peeve of mine, but there are people I know who still make fun of CFL players because those players supposedly have to get day jobs to make ends meet.

You know CRF, I hear you and I have heard the same thing. To me, it actually is more classy for people to have day jobs to make ends meet, so to speak, playing a pro sport and such. Because it shows a respect towards what life is about, most people have to learn to be a lawyer, carpenter, secretary, construction worker, doctor, nurse, clerk, sheet metal worker etc. Playing pro sports and making millions is some sort of pipe dream for but a select few. Russ Jackson has said this repeatedly, respect him so much turning down US offers back then and playing football and becoming a math teacher and principal. Nice, very nice.

And of course soccer and football can co-exist, unlike baseball, the fields are practically identical in structure. Doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure this out unless you're MLSE of course.

Mark Cohon on the Fan590