Ottawa Update

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The group trying to bring CFL football back to Ottawa by 2010 will make its proposal to city staff for a redeveloped Lansdowne Park in mid-September.

"We're putting a full-court press together," said front-man Jeff Hunt. "There has been a misconception that our proposal is only about CFL football, but it is much broader than that."

Hunt was referring to a poll published this week that suggested 48% of Ottawans don't want the stadium maintained for a new CFL franchise. The poll also suggested that 69% of respondents preferred an "urban oasis to showcase the waterway, farmers markets and community events," and 46% liking the idea of a creating a centre for arts and entertainment.

Hunt said simply maintaining Frank Clair Stadium for football was never part of his proposal, and given the choice, who wouldn't want an "urban oasis?"

"Our proposal combines elements of all the choices," he said. "Fixing up Frank Clair Stadium is not limited to football any more than Scotiabank Place has been limited to Senators hockey."

Hunt would not get into specific details about the proposal until he delivers it to city staff, but his vision is that Lansdowne Park becomes a venue that would appeal to sports fans and non-sports fans, and not just during a sporting event, but any time during the week.

"It has to be a must-visit attraction when you come to Ottawa -- the Parliament buildings, the canal and Lansdowne Park. The kind of place where you bring friends from out of town to see."

That is sure to include retail shops, restaurants, bars and a venue for arts and entertainment. And rest assured, Hunt said, the farmers markets and community events would not be affected by his proposal.

"I think the Glebe will love it, it will enhance living in the Glebe," said Hunt, who also owns the 67's junior hockey team.

"Our group got together to figure out what would make CFL football successful in Ottawa like it is in so many other markets," Hunt said. "What has evolved is it became a solution for Lansdowne Park.

"If there are 10 reasons why football hasn't worked, seven or eight of them have to do with the facility. Today, people have an expectation of what a pro sports experience should be like and that's not the case at Frank Clair Stadium."

He compared it to other business models.

"If you were trying to have a restaurant in Ottawa and had a dilapidated interior, rickety chairs and just a scuzzy environment, even if you had five-star food, it probably wouldn't succeed."

Hunt said the Senators have "raised the bar for what a pro sports experience should be," and he wants football fans to have that same feeling.

His meeting next month with city staff will give him an indication of how close he is to making that happen

Hurray! Jim Hunt gets it! Lets hope movers and shakers from other cities read this article.

In his most recent blog, commissioner Mark Cohon mentioned a date of 2011 for the Ottawa franchise. I found that a little discouraging.

Awwwww.... I liked when the Gliebermans gave away those beads for lifting your top. :oops:

I'm not discouraged by 2011. I would rather see them take their time and do it right than start half-baked.

I would guess the 2001 date had more to do with the logistics of getting the building completed in time.

We are now into September 2008. That leaves less that 2 years for all the work to be done if they started today. Realistically, it is impossible to think the project will be green-lit in a couple days. More likely no work will begin until next Spring by the time all hoops are jumped through. If that's the case, then 2011 would fit perfectly within a two year time frame.

This all sounds great, but I wonder how many fans will actually return, espcially given the fact that a down of football won't be played until 2011. Other than the football die hards in Ottawa, its going to be hard to keep others interested in the resurrection of the franchise.

The franchise is pretty much guaranteed regular updates in the media over the next two years. It won't be forgotten.

Usually a new stadium, in this case one half of one, brings those curious out who under normal circumstance would not come out.
The fence sitters or bandwagon jumpers. And that is a good start, plus of course what diehards that might be left.

Yep. It's not as though we'll make up one morning and a team will take the field that night. Hunt already manages to be in the media about once a month or so and he doesn't even have a team yet (or, for that matterm a stadium). He'll have plenty of time to show that he can run a team professionally rather than draft dead guys or have interviews about his pecker in the Ottawa Sun (thanks again for the visual, Lonie).

I also agree with the other point about waiting until 2011 if it means not rushing things. 2010 was never guaranteed anyway. People latched on to it, but it was always said to be the best-case scenario. No big deal.

the only thing IMO that Hunt needs to worry about is every year that goes by,the NFL is that much closer to coming to T.O. permanently,which means that many more future fans will be Bills fans,especially if the team is dubed "Canada's team"

that team may very well caravan all throu out Ontario, and cities may try to bid for training camp sites

Not gonna happen..... Just wait until this next NFL game where fans will refuse to buy tickets from ticketmaster and insist on buying them from scalpers.... Trust me the amount of sold tickets for the game with Miami WILL NOT change from today. You'd be an idiot.. considering you can buy a ticket on the street for 10 cents on the dollar.Rogers can pretty much look at his sales figures now (for the whole five years)and realize he'll be lucky to sell even half that many for all of the remaining games....
Of course if the Bills somehow manage to become competitive this could change....but they've almost jinxed themselves with the Leafs curse by playing in hogtown.

Are you being serious?

The NFL and Toronto should no longer be used in the same sentence. Until the NFL moves back from it's position of keeping the Bills in Buffalo, that Toronto gets a stadium and LA has 2 teams, you can forget about it. There's no reason to believe the NFL is coming to Canada.

Also why would people outside of toronto give a rat's tail about a "Canadian" NFL team? People could care less about micky mouse Toronto FC (who happened to lose again tonight conceding a pathetic goal in extra time at a more then half empty LA stadium). The same goes for teh boo jays, and the raptors (although I am a raptors fan :smiley: )