City holds Key to CFL Prospects

In today's Citizen.

I don't know if we're allowed to post ejntire articles, so here are the key points.

Bill Palmer, who represents a group of investors looking to return a Canadian Football League franchise to Ottawa, confirmed yesterday that an agreement-in-principle with the league was in place.

"That is accurate," he said from his Indianapolis office.

That includes a whopping franchise fee that is at least $5.5 million, and perhaps more than $6 million, including a non-refundable deposit. That Palmer's investors are willing to foot such a steep price for a franchise suggests they are serious, but the second part of the group's plan involves a deal with the city for use of Frank Clair Stadium.

According to several CFL sources, Palmer's group wants operational control of the stadium, not simply to rent it as a tenant, but also to ensure certain levels of service that the City of Ottawa, the facility's owner, could not provide to previous CFL team owners. It would also mean financial relief, including not having to pay the rent that previous ownership groups paid, which was the most expensive in the CFL.

The owners of the Ottawa Renegades paid no less than $600,000 rent for the 2005 season, which included nine home games, and no more than $850,000 based on the amount of tickets sold.


Yesterday, neither Palmer nor Walter Robinson, O'Brien's chief of staff, would say whether the sides had met. Robinson said the city was waiting to hear from the CFL and its new commissioner, Mark Cohon, about the league's intentions for Ottawa, but no one had asked for operational control of Lansdowne Park.


Palmer currently works for a U.S. construction company that specializes in building stadiums and arenas. A former CFL player, he recognizes that most CFL venues do not meet the standards of modern facilities whose amenities include plush luxury suites, jumbo video screens and bucket seating, not benches.


"The mayor has laid out a vision for what he would like to see Lansdowne become," Robinson said. "The mayor has not laid out any conditions, one way or another, of how that would happen. The mayor's office is open to people who would have proposals to make that asset a true community gem and a centre for what life in Ottawa could be."

Sorry, I meant to have this in the Ottawa folder. If one of the mods wants to move it, please do.

This what I've felt all along as the problem in football returning to Ottawa. If the city and politicians had been pro-active CFL football would have been back already in Ottawa.

good read.

Here is where the fans can step up to the plate with the city. They need to drive home the point that they want football back. Fans need to tell councillors and the mayor that concessions need to be made to make the whole thing work. If this is to succeed, you need to be heard loud and clear. Attend council meetings, set up conferences with the city administration and voice your views. Now is the time to act.

That is especially true now that the mayor has put himself on the hook by saying that he wants Ottawa to be able to walk with a swagger.

I e-mailed him then (for clarification more than anything because I hadn't found the rest of his speech by then), I'll do so again, and I know a number of fans that already have. This is, at least, a glimmer at the end of the tunnel.

Palmer would not confirm his desire to operate the facility, but did say that much progress had to be made with the city. He has previously said [b]he wants the business affairs for a new team to be up and running by the time the eight current CFL clubs open training camp open next month.[/b] The new Ottawa team would take to the field in 2008.
atleast this gives us some sort of timeframe!

Interesting read indeed! I still have a question about fan loyalty though.

I know I'm a dumb american not seeing the whole story but..Does it really matter what type of stadium is built?..or ownership is in place?..or promises made, if the fans still don't show up?

All i've heard on this site is how "fickle" Ottawa fans are. Do people really think it will work yet again?

IWS, in hamilton, was a terrible place to be until Bob Young added a new videotron, and added other things.

then the fans started comming out because it was fun to be there, despite a crappy team.

So people will come for the electronics instead of the actual game.

no, but if the venue isn't a pleasent place to be, then fans won't go when the team isn't winning.

the mentality is: the place sucks, and the team sucks so why go?

I don't blame Palmer and his group trying to operate the stadium for other events. No doubt they want to make major improvements, although not stated in this article.
The stadium is a jewel in that location, but like Mosaic Field and Ivor Wynne it needs an overhaul.
Well it is now in the hands of the fans and the politicians.
We apperently can't blame the owner(s) again.
Your move Ottawa.

No, it’s in the hands of the politicians. If thousands of us contacted them and they chose to go in another direction, we’re not responsible for their decisions.

You can lead a horse to water…

But if the whole thing collapsed now, I couldn’t blame Palmer, that’s for sure. What he’s asking for is not outrageous. O’Brien talked the talk, now he has to walk the walk.

CR, I don't agree.
Although in theory the politicians can ignore the population, on mass and of course strength in numbers will dictate policy.
Everyone can make a difference.

It wouldn’t be wise for them to ignore the population but ultimately the decision is theirs. That’s all I’m saying.

What do you think will happen, the word on the street?

I disagree with the fact that you think Mosaic needs an overhaul. Have you ever been to Taylor Field? I would say it needs a few upgrades, but nothing that drastic. The Rogers Centre is now almost 20 yrs old and people in Toronto want to replace it! Maybe Rogers is the stadium that is in need of an overhaul... :lol: :lol:

Me? I think it'll happen, and I think the decision to give themselves a year (or so) to build and market is a wise one. it gives them time to show they're the real thing and not yet another bunch of so-called saviours who don't know what the hell they're doing.

Really, if it wasn't for the potential of appearing of buying a team for the sake of giving his kid a job, palmer would be pretty ideal. Has a local connection and league expereience, wants to hire a GM with a history in this league (and team), acknowledges the team's history, is involved with stadium improvements, is patient in terms of building the team...There's a lot to like there. Jesse's "role" is about the only chink in the armour, unless I'm forgetting something.

And even that may not be that big a deal. i went to breakfast at a place called Rockwell's here and they have Jesse Palmer stuff ont he walls. They aired his first start against Auburn years ago (I remember because i'm an Auburn fan too). A restaurant chain called Local Heroes is also crawling with Palmer stuff (saved newpaper articles and such). There are a number of people willing to overlook the whole Bachelor nonsense...

Sambo, no I have never been to TF.
From watching on TV and talking to people who have been, I get the impression the place is a dump.
Just like Ivor Wynne, which I have been on many occasions and probably has the best vantage point in watching a game, these two stadiums like CanadIns have outlived its usefullness.
If all of these were hockey arenas, they would have first been condemed and replaced years ago.
Its time Sambo that you and the fine fans/residents of Regina mobilize and put pressure on your civic and provincial politicians to do the right thing.
These two levels of government can then go hat in hand to Ottawa just like here in Toronto when the crooked MLSE became virtual owners by putting up no real money and building a nice looking 20,000 seater for soccer of all things. Gimmee aa break?
A new stadium/convention center/hotel complex creates new jobs and invigurates the city and neighborhood.
Just look what the fine people of Winnipeg will achieve.

one stadium at a time, argotom.

montreal is getting funding for an expansion....winnipeg will get funding for a whole new stadium.

i dont think the government is gonna hand every cfl team money to fix thier stadiums all at once.