It's Official: 'Gades suspended for 2006 season

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The CFL has put the troubled Ottawa Renegades franchise on ice. The league's board of governors decided Sunday during a meeting at a Toronto hotel to suspend the Renegades' operation for the 2006 season and work to find a new owner for the franchise in time for a potential re-launch in 2007.

"In the end, with the scarcity in time we were not able to find that owner or that ownership group but it wasn't for a lack of trying," CFL commissioner Tom Wright said. "We spoke to many really good individuals but it was their decision that there wasn't enough time to properly do this.

"The decision to suspend the Ottawa franchise was certainly a difficult one, but one we think was the right one. Right now our focus is to get ready for the 2006 season. I certainly believe an owner for Ottawa does exist, but we will only do it with the right owner."

There's some question, however, whether Wright will be around to see a new owner take over in Ottawa. Wright is in the final year of his contract and needs the support of at least seven of the nine governors to get a multi-year extension. Wright failed to sway enough board members on a multi-year deal last summer, receiving just a one-year extension instead.

With Ottawa gone for 2006, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will move into the East Division to give the CFL two four-team conferences.

The Bombers played previously in the East from 1987 to 1994 and 1997 to 2001, the last stint after the former Ottawa Rough Riders folded.

Players currently under contract to the Ottawa club - most notably quarterback Kerry Joseph and receiver Jason Armstead - will be made available to other CFL teams in a league dispersal draft, although no date has been set.

"A dispersal draft will be held in the coming days," Wright said, adding the league and CFL Players' Assoication are expected to talk Monday and begin finalizing details.

But Renegades head coach John Jenkins and his staff might not be so lucky. Their contracts aren't guartanteed and now they all face having to find new jobs, although there are reports majority owner Bernie Glieberman has pledged to take care of the Ottawa coaches even though he's not legally obligated to.

The Renegades must refund about $850,000 in season-ticket money to their fans.

The CFL revised its schedule, with Winnipeg replacing Ottawa as the pre-season opponents for the Montreal Alouettes. The Touchdown Atlantic exhibition game in Halifax between the Als and Renegades was cancelled outright, although Wright hopes the game can be resurrected in 2007.

The revised schedule will kick off June 16 and conclude Oct. 28, followed by the playoffs and Grey Cup game.

The CFL spent two weeks desperately searching for a new owner for the franchise after minority owner Bill Smith indicated he no longer wanted to put money into the club and Glieberman wasn't willing to be accountable for more than $2.5 million in losses. The Renegades reportedly lost about $4 million last year and was projected to lose between $5 and $6 million in 2006.

Glieberman had sought a $2-million loan from the CFL to help cover the projected losses but league governors voted against the proposal, and as a result the franchise was put up for sale March 22. Shortly afterwards, the league established a committee to find a new owner for the club in time for the upcoming season.

And while the CFL spoke to the likes of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melynk, David Asper, executive vice-president of CanWest Global Communications Corp., and Anthony Primerano, the president of Golden Gate Capital, a mortgage-origination company based in Toronto, no deal could be reached.

With CFL training camps set to open later next month, the CFL faced two options: Fund the Renegades itself, or mothball the franchise for a year and continue the search for a new owner.

"We spent a lot of time analyzing and looking at the prospect of managing this ourselves," Wright said. "We looked at it and said to ourselves, 'Would we be able to do the product on the field, the organization and community justice by trying to manage this situation ourselves?' Again, we felt in the long-term interests of the fans and players it was right to suspend operations."

The CFL assumed operation of both the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts during the 2003 season when ownership for the two clubs either stopped or could no longer pay the bills. But the difference then, though, was the league stepped in at mid-season.

Operating the Renegades would've meant the CFL using funds allocated to its member teams to keep Ottawa afloat, and considering the majority of league teams are already losing money, that wasn't much of an option.

Ironically, CFL teams actually stand to benefit financially from the Renegades' demise. With one less team to split league-generated revenues with, the remaining eight clubs reportedly will receive an extra $160,000 apiece this season.

"We will now move into the next phase, which is working long-term to find the right ownership for Ottawa," Wright said, "We do have the luxury of time, however, and we will apply the same criteria that we had over the last two weeks moving forward."

I've been in shock all day, I don't really know what to think of this situation. When you think about it, it probably is the best decision of the cfl to fold the team if you can't find any owner rather than having each team pay 500K to support it this season. I dunno...

Keeping this team running would have hurt the league financially. This was the best decision possible. The league will be more stable and if new owners are found a stronger and more marketable Ottawa franchise can be restarted.

My heart goes out to all football fans in Ottawa. That city deserves better. As a football fan who grew up in the Ottawa Valley, I know the rich, rich history of football in the Nations Capital. The CFL has the best commish in pro sports, if he thinks this is the best for the CFL then I support him. I just hope this doesn't kill football in Ottawa for good.

I hope to see the 'Gades in '07!

...the league obviously felt that Ottawa needs time......will they return. :?: ...only a close examination of the market and new owners will decide that ... it's a.sad day...I hope they can revive for 07.... :!:

Totally disagree, this was a bad decision and the clowns who run the league and the teams misread the mood of the public. The league may not recover from this public relation fiasco and may be the ever feared domino effect. The anti CFL fans and media will have a field day and rightfully so.
Although I am a life long fan of this league and have put it on a pedestal ever since I can remember, this is gut wrenching.
It's like the NHL lockout, although it was no lockout, losing one team is like the guts being torn out of your body. What happened to some NHL fans when the players came back is the same thing that I predict will happen here. Some very jilted fans will take their time and CFL $ elsewhere.
Even I am starting to review my decision as being an Argo season ticket holder for the past 13 years.
It is more then frustrating when the inmates are running the asylum.
My CFL includes the Gades.

You have to look at this decision as a business decision. With no owners stepping up teams like the Riders and Bombers will have a tough time financially keeping the Gades alive. With Ottawa gone, which is very unfortunate and I hope they are revived with strong owners like Toronto and Hamilton have, the league now has eight strong franchises who will in fact all make more money because Ottawa is gone.

It might sound a little weird but I sort of compare this situation to having an infected body part that needs amputation. You'd really like to keep it around, but for the good of your body it has to go.

Roughy out of sight out of mind. The laughing days of one step forward and two backwards have returned.
All of the positive gains over the last few years have now been wiped out by this decision.
Perception being everything, this again fuels the fire by the naysayers who need very little to bash the league and the clowns who run the teams. I for one cannot argue this point with anyone. Everytime some NFL loving fan says that the CFL is bush, well my friends this situation is exactly that.
The 06 season and beyond may never be the same.

The naysayers are going to be there no matter what. If Sakatchewan and Winnipeg prop up the Gades how long do you think those teams will survive. It's unfortunate but the CFL cannot let the situation in Ottawa effect other teams because as they prop up the weak link it brings all the other teams down financially. And in the end that is all that matters, money. Without money there is no CFL. Without Ottawa the CFL is now stronger and every franchise will, in the end, have more money in their pockets because of this decision. If I had to guess probably in the range of a million dollars or more (but that really is just a guess).

Honestly, I feel betrayed by the CFL. Toronto and Hamilton got support while Ottawa doesn't. Whats up with that? As a RoughRiders fan of old and a Renegades fan, I am very disappointed. I'll be thinking long and hard about buying season tickets again when, or if, professional football returns to the nations capital. I can guarantee that attendance, revenues and tv ratings will be down this year with the loss of this market. What a shame and what a sham!!!

Short term increased finances does not equate into long term financial success. What do you think the fallout will mean if less fans view the games on TV. The TV contract is up next year and if there is a drastic downturn, the value will plummet as will the record sponsorship dollars.
With the Gades gone, I would bet how for sure the clown owners will fire Wright at season end. Someone has to be the scapegoat. Bringing more instability and sponsors will bail yet again. Meaning, less dollars overall for the teams.
Your current view of short term is exactly whats wrong with the owners.

You got that right. If you think this is good for the league, think again. No matter how the league tries to spin it, this will have a detrimental impact on all the teams, the financial position of the league, tv ratings...This was not the' Wright' decision!!! I'm bummed out.

there is a difference. The league stepped in for TO and Ham, yes, but that was mid season. If they suspended those teams then the whole season would have been ruined in my opinion. This is at the start of the season. Don't blame the CFL, blame the people that don't show up to games. $99 for a season ticket and people still don't show

And if teams like the Riders and Bombers support Ottawa and no owners are found. What happens then, do they support them for another year? Each year these teams support Ottawa would drive them farther and farther into financial debt until they end up folding too.

You prop up the team for 06 and if there is still no owner(Melnyk is the only one) who does not want to run the team and the stadium, then sell it to QC.
There were legit people interested in buying and moving there.

And if a deal in Quebec is not done, what happens then? This was, unfortunately, the only decision that could be made. Certain teams just cannot afford to keep another team alive, that is the reality of the situation.

Tell it to the teams in the "good old days" when there use to be the league stabilization fund. Every year the haves would prop up the have not's.
The move of folding or suspending a team is a step back. There is no positive spin to this.

Tentatively I agree with Argotom. The perception of potential fans will be that the CFL can't support itself and therefore is a garbage product. Sponsors won't like being associated with a 'struggling' league.

On the other hand, the league survived without Ottawa for years and they can do it again. Cancelling the Touchdown Atlantic wasn't a good idea either. I'm sure it wouldn't have been that hard to use the Bombers in place of the Gades. Atlantic fans will have a sour taste from this as well.

All tolled, its a black day for the CFL. Good thing that it was a Sunday annoucnement.

The initial article suggested that most of the teams are losing money. Is this true? I thought that, Gades aside, the other CFL franchises were doing fairly well.