Talk about a complete 180 flip from the past:[url=http://www.ottawasun.com/2015/11/30/ottawa-redblacks-spared-no-expense-on-grey-cup?token=4ac3f72b0d15a83e966b96371d3a27e5]http://www.ottawasun.com/2015/11/30/ott ... 371d3a27e5[/url]
Winning the Grey Cup could have cost the Ottawa RedBlacks as much as $1.5 million. Just getting there probably cost nearly $1 million -- but to the team, it's worth every penny.
For a team that finished its first season with a 2-16 record, then followed that up with a 12-6 regular-season mark and a trip to the national championship, all is good. The team could have lessened its costs substantially, but chose to reward its players (injured and practice roster guys were invited to the Grey Cup as well) and staff.
"The cost to advance to the Grey Cup is significant," said Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group president Jeff Hunt. "While there's some coverage from the league on our extra expenses, it doesn't come close to covering the entirety of it. But you know what, for any of our owners, it's not a distraction. If it means this year we're not going to have as financially a profitable year, to be at the Grey Cup is worth it. Everyone wants to talk about the money because it's been so much a factor (in Ottawa) for so many years. Money is not a problem. We're viable, we've got the resources to be around for a long time."
The Grey Cup's losing team gets 54 player shares of $8,000 from the CFL. But the RedBlacks will extend it beyond that. There were added costs with spouses on the trip. The team also picked up the tab on things like tickets, transportation and had a program where players could bring family members, with the RedBlacks covering a set amount.
"We're establishing a culture, we're defining ourselves as an organization that does things like this," said Hunt. "I think about the Montreal Canadiens, the way they treat their players and alumni. I'd like to replicate that as our model. We want all our players to feel part of it. To get to this point, we wanted them to be able to enjoy it with their families. You don't have to do what we did -- it's something we wanted to do -- there are no rules."
If Ottawa had won on Sunday, Grey Cup rings could have cost an additional $400,000-$500,000.
Profit margins are always good for the CFL's west teams, particularly in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan.
The Blue Bombers reported a profit of $3.9 million in 2014. The Roughriders had a profit of $10.4 million in 2013, but more than $9 million of that was from hosting the Grey Cup. That's great news for the RedBlacks who are bidding to host the 2017 Grey Cup -- celebrating Canada's 150th birthday right in the nation's capital.
Fan support for the RedBlacks has been great, but there are still some challenges for OSEG to overcome.
"When you talk about OSEG, you can't just isolate the football team -- it's the stadium, it's the 67's, it's the Fury, it's a whole bunch of businesses," said Hunt. "The long and short of it is, I know there have been conversations for years about the financial viability of football in Ottawa. It's not a conversation we need to have any more, we'll be fine.
"The stadium has been a bigger challenge than we thought. We're not getting as many events as we hoped, but these are all things we hope will change over time."