I know many of you will try to tear me a new one, but listen close.
I've lived in Ottawa most of my life, took in many a Rough Riders and Renegades games (in addition to Lynx, 67s, and Senators games), and was there screaming my lungs out at that last Rough Riders game, on the upper South Side, believing that there'd be a new team in a year or two.
You know the rest of that story, but listen to the rest of mine.
I've spent the majority of my last 5 years in Winnipeg. I had never been there before, and the city never even crossed my mind. As far as Canadian cities go, I bet Winnipeg gets the least amount of love from southern Ontarians.
When I got there I had no idea what to expect. I quickly found out that it was a beautiful city with wonderful citizens. And what made me the happiest guy in town was that they have passionate sports fans.
Blue Bombers games are amazing. The crowd is fully decked out in jerseys. The crowds are always large. The city gets excited when game day approaches. I hadn't ever experienced an atmosphere like that here in Ottawa.
I also took in a number of Goldeyes games. They're an independent baseball team. Like, not even on the radar. I think 8 teams play in the whole Northern League, and they're not even single-A players. They are regular joes that have day jobs. But you know what? Some how, some way, the city of Winnipeg managed to build a brand new, state-of-the-art (and beautiful) stadium right downtown. It puts that junk concrete edifice here in Ottawa to shame. And by the way, they've averaged nearly 7,000 fans a game for years. The stands are always packed.
The Moose have a brand new hockey arena downtown. I've taken in their games a few times, and it's surprisingly busy in there too.
Did I fail to mention that the Bombers are about to build a brand new stadium without any conflict/nimbys/etc?
Where did Ottawa go wrong and Winnipeg go so right? I'm just not hopeful that sports will ever fly in this city, especially when the Sens start missing the playoffs year in and year out. The people here just don't care much for sports. They put up a stink when they lose a team, but are they willing to show up when it matters most? If I know anything about my fellow citizens here in Ottawa, I know that they'll conveniently have something else to do on game day.