In today's Citizen.http://tinyurl.com/ywley7
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."