Time Running Out on Ottawa

[url=http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Columnists/Brennan/2009/01/17/8056926-sun.html]http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Columnists/Br ... 6-sun.html[/url]

In these difficult economic times, even the cost of a fresh, honest opinion ain't what it used to be.

For Jeff Hunt's two cents yesterday, I paid dearly.

The 6:15 a.m. alarm. The -29 C and the car that never could get warm. The $9 parking. The $31.50 for a Chamber of Commerce breakfast featuring guest speaker Mark Cohon, the commissioner of the CFL.

In return, most of what I was told at the Sheraton I've been told before. Cohon essentially made the same presentation at Algonquin College's 2008 Sports Business Symposium last March. Oh, the numbers were updated. Last season, the CFL had its best attendance figures since 1983. Television ratings were up 14%. The Grey Cup raked in $70 million for the city of Montreal ... We get the point, already. Things are looking up in the CFL.

To be clear, I think Cohon is probably a very good commish. And I believe the local group of businessmen (Hunt, John Ruddy, William Shenkman and Roger Greenberg) to which he has granted a conditional franchise is indeed a "Dream Team." You want a better ownership consortium? Not going to happen. A land redevelopment proposal that makes more sense? Good luck with that.

But right now, all any of us really to need to know is that the Hunt group has continued to work diligently with city staff on refining its Lansdowne Live! proposal, and that on or about Feb. 17 it will go to city council expecting a vote on whether it will receive a letter of intent to proceed or be presented "other alternatives."

That, and what if any possibility exists for extending the third-week-in-March deadline between the CFL and the would-be owners, if need be.

"If there's any discussion (on the deadline), it would have to go back to the board of governors, the board of governors would have to vote on that," said Cohon. "But we would like to see progress. It's important we see progress with the city.

"I'm not here in any way to pressure the city," he added. "I'm here to say it's time. If you look at the economy, this is a good time for us to move forward on an initiative like this. If we want to look at infrastructure opportunities and get shovels in the ground, this is the time where cities and the province and the federal government are looking to make infrastructure projects work. And the fans want it. I think that's important."

Yeah, don't forget the fans. We working-class stiffs who are dealing with these difficult economic times.

Enter Hunt, and his fresh, honest opinion.

"Believe it or not, I think the state of the economy makes a better environment for these kinds of things," said the 67's owner. "Look at all the terrible things that are happening in Ottawa right now, and what a great, welcomed distraction the world juniors were. For those 12-14 days, we almost forgot about all of our troubles, and just had a great time. That's the power of sports.

"And don't forget, depending on what numbers you want to look at, we're talking a $200-$300-million project. A substantial portion of which is private. How often have you heard talk of infrastructure and helping to kind of get the economy going again? These types of major projects are extremely important in tough economic times."

Hunt calls the Feb. 17 city council meeting "D-Day."

"I think we're coming to a head," he said. "I think it's time for the city to make a high-level decision ... Should we have an open-air world-class stadium at Lansdowne Park? And should the city continue to pursue an agreement, or a relationship, with our group? Those are some high-level decisions they're going to have to make in February."

Boy I know there has to be a political process, but this is akin to a snails pace/ turtle race with Winnipeg.
I hope some of us will still be alive when and if a decision is made.

I'm confident that the Hunt proposal will go through despite the press that Clive Doucet is receiving. If he wins and gets the design competition opened up, he may as well become the mayor as far as I can see. It would undermine so many people there trying to get the Hunt proposal stamped for approval.

The whole idea of "international design" is so, so treaturous IMO. You think any Asian or European project in their capital city would be open to outsiders? You think when the Twin tower redesign was chosen it would have gone to an "international" source. These people make me want to puke.

The problem is that dimwit council agreed to have one. At the time, the Hunt group's proposal was pretty bare bones so it would have looked weird to agree to NOT look at anything else. But when they suspended it with the announcement of the conditional franchise, Clive got all indignant that his competition got suspended as a result.

I don't blame him in a way. But my point of view is that the Hunt Group proposal came before any kind of daydream competition and therefore should not be held to its guidelines. Set the rules BEFORE, not after. Besides, it's not like anyone is being prevented from submitting anything...and no one else has.

Cripes, Lansdowne has been neglected for years, but a month after someone offers to clean it up, now we need to know what the Swedes think. Let's flush away a local, wealthy group with a history in the business (both in sports and construction) and of charitable donations to hear Swen's take. Makes sense to me. :roll:

I hate that I even have to debate this.

CRF, didn't the mayor there say that when the orginal idea of a design competition was floated that the economy was still ok and hadn't crashed and that in light of how the economy has gone down the tubes, justifying spending, I don't know what was it some $300,000 on a design competition when someone like the Hunt group came through with a serious proposal, that now it just doesn't make nearly as much sense to go through with is competition and spend such an amount?

Yes! I had forgotten that. The mayor thinks that devoting that kind of coin to competition is pointless and said something to the extent that he would do everything in his power to prevent.

The mayor and Clive Doucet don't get along very well. :stuck_out_tongue: