A group seeking to return professional football to Ottawa emerged after a teleconference call with Canadian Football League officials Tuesday expressing optimism the sides can make a deal.
Bill Palmer, a former CFL linebacker and father of Montreal Alouettes quarterback Jesse Palmer, called the exchange with the league's franchise committee ''productive,'' and said the parties will talk again next week.
''I feel good about it,'' Palmer said. ''There are ebbs and flows to negotiations, and you learn more every time you spend time with them.
''It was a good, productive day. I'm still passionate about doing this. I just want the deal to be fair for both parties.''
Palmer represents a group of eight to 10 American investors and one from Ottawa. Palmer has refused to disclose their identities.
He was joined Tuesday by former Rough Riders general manager Dan Rambo, a retired National Football League scout who stands to assume a front-office position should Palmer's group land a franchise. Rambo, a longtime Ottawa resident, is heading the group's negotiation for an expansion draft, which the CFL has already admitted should be favourable to the new franchise and make it instantly competitive.
The Ottawa Renegades were officially ''suspended'' by the league in April after four seasons of competition. The Rough Riders were collapsed by the league following the 1996 campaign after 120 years of existence.
Palmer's group represents the last hope for Ottawa football fans now that two other would-be bidders are no longer in the running.
In October, Golden Gate Capital Corp. dismissed itself after its chief financier was diagnosed with cancer. Then, earlier this month, a bid led by food-and-beverage entrepreneur Frank D'Angelo was told by the CFL that it was no longer under consideration.
The league and Palmer are trying to bridge significant gaps on several fronts, foremost a franchise fee that the league has increased from $3.5 million to more than $5 million since the bidders emerged. The league also wants a security bond to guarantee operational funds for at least one season should the new owners abandon the franchise.
The sides must also agree to terms of an expansion draft, which was a significant problem for Renegades management in 2001, and Palmer's group must also negotiate a lease with the City of Ottawa for Frank Clair Stadium.