Tentative deal to return CFL to Ottawa
Agreement still has to be worked out with Ottawa over Frank Clair Stadium
Published: Monday, March 24, 2008
OTTAWA - The Canadian Football League has apparently reached an agreement with an Ottawa group to bring back a franchise to the capital.
Commissioner Mark Cohon is to be in town Tuesday for the announcement. He is to be accompanied by the men behind the franchise bid, Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt, and developers Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and Bill Shenkman.
Although the CFL has reached an agreement with the group, a deal still has to be worked out with the city over Frank Clair Stadium, which needs millions of dollars in improvements. Any deal might be tied in with city plans to redevelop the whole of Lansdowne Park. Ottawa last had a franchise in the 2005 season.
Ottawa to get CFL franchise Tuesday
Stadium still a hurdle, but Jeff Hunt to head up ownership group
By DAN RALPH, The Canadian Press
The CFL is returning to Ottawa.
A league source said Monday the CFL will award the Canadian capital a conditional expansion franchise during a news conference at Lansdowne Park on Tuesday.
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon will be in attendance to make the formal announcement. Although there is no specific timeline in place for the franchise to begin operation, it could be up and running as early as 2010.
This will mark the CFL’s third stint in Ottawa. The Rough Riders enjoyed a long and storied history in the city. Formed in 1876, the franchise captured nine Grey Cups, including three between 1960 and 1970.
The franchise ceased operations following the ’96 season. The CFL returned in 2002, this time as the Renegades. However, the league suspended that club four years later when its ownership wasn’t prepared to take on millions in projected losses.
Last week, the Globe and Mail reported that the CFL and the Ottawa group, headed up by Ottawa 67’s owner Jeff Hunt, were close to a formal agreement on an expansion franchise for the Canadian capital.
Hunt’s group also includes three high-profile Ottawa businessmen: Roger Greenberg, chairman and CEO of Minto Developments:
John Ruddy, the president of Trinity Development Group; and William Shenkman, chairman of Shenkman Corp., another local property development company.
But there are strings attached.
One major hurdle still remaining for Hunt and his partners is a stadium. Last year, the city of Ottawa recommended the lower tier of the south-side stands at Frank Clair Stadium be demolished due to structural concerns. Hunt’s group has reportedly been working with civic officials on a redevelopment plan for Lansdowne Park, where is where Frank Clair Stadium is located.
The Ottawa expansion franchise is contingent on Hunt’s group securing an agreement with Ottawa civic officials and for the revamped Frank Clair Stadium to have a capacity of at least 25,000 seats.
Since there isn’t a firm date for the Ottawa club to officially begin play, Hunt’s group has some time to negotiate with the city. It also gives builders sufficient time to make structural changes at Frank Clair Stadium.
This marks Hunt’s second attempt to land a CFL franchise for Ottawa. Last year, Hunt was part of the Golden Gate Capital group that was regarded as the front-runner among three bids to land a CFL expansion franchise for Ottawa. But Golden Gate was forced to withdraw from the bidding after a prominent group member was diagnosed with intestinal cancer.
While this would be the CFL’s third stint in Ottawa, league officials are confident Hunt’s group can succeed where others failed. Hunt has done a masterful job of turning the 67’s into one of the top junior hockey operations in Canada and has developed a reputation of being a shrewd sports executive. And his partners all have the financial clout to ensure enough money to operate a franchise with a league-mandated $4.05-million salary cap.
The Ottawa Rough Riders enjoyed a long and storied history in the city. Formed in 1876, the franchise captured nine Grey Cups, including three between 1960 and 1970, before its demise in 1996. The CFL was forced to mothball the Renegades operation prior to the 2006 season after Bernie Glieberman, a former Rough Riders owner, and Bill Smith walked away from the club rather than cover a projected $6-million operating loss.
CFL set to confirm return to Ottawa
Globe and Mail Update
March 24, 2008 at 10:46 AM EDT
The Canadian Football League is expected to announce a return to the nation's capital at a news conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Ottawa.
The league has completed a deal that would award a conditional expansion franchise to a group led by Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt, with the intent of a team beginning play for the 2010 season.
The deal, which has been in the works for months, was close to completion in recent days and the league had hoped to make an announcement in Ottawa last week.
However, that plan was put off when the sides decided they needed more time to complete some details in a letter of intent for the CFL's ninth franchise to be bought by Hunt and his partners, local developers Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and William Shenkman.
The deal would be contingent on Hunt's group securing an arrangement to utilize Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne Park, a complex slated for redevelopment after the southside stands were condemned last fall.