WE'RE BACK!!!!!!!!!

Tentative deal to return CFL to Ottawa
Agreement still has to be worked out with Ottawa over Frank Clair Stadium
Ottawa Citizen
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.

Conditionally...

So, a question. I know that Civic politics has been a concern. (Based on what I have read in this forum.) How have the local politicians reacted? Positive? Negative? Will they co-operate with the Hunt group?

Of 23, there are only two that we know weren't crazy about rebuilding the stadium. We know of two that were strongly in favour of rebuilding it. The mayor also is in favour.

One the two in favour feels confident that the votes are there to make it happen but you never know. That's why I'm still a little reluctant to jump in joy.

This is all great news, and I'm thrilled to hear it - especially to see three papers reporting it (are there links to the stories, which I can send to my friends?)

Yes, it is still conditional, so nothing's set in stone. But I'd imagine that the promise of a permanent tenant for the stadium would go a VERY long ways in agreeing to rebuild it. It's a lot easier to build a stadium for a team that already (or almost) exists, than for nobody in particular. In fact, I'd bet that a large part of the reason for announcing a conditional CFL team now is because of the talk about redeveloping Lansdowne Park.

If this is all confirmed tomorrow afternoon, I'll also be glad to see that they'll take 2 years (at least) to prepare for their first season, rather than rushing into it. That's 2 years to rebuild the fan base, and if people see that the team is going to be there in 3 years time, it will show stability, which I'm sure is what the Ottawa fans really want. The team will already have a (presumably good) history by the time they play their first game.

Here is the plan as I know it now, Ottawa city council is looking to redevelop Landsdowne Park which includes the stadium. The city itself doesnt have the money to develop it themselves including refurbishing the stadium.
What the city has going now is a consultation competition and companies wishing to submit a plan will be able to do so in the near future. They are now doing surveys etc to see what the tax payers want. Overwhelmingly the citizens want a stadium included in the redevelopment. What Hunt and his group (combined worth of almost a billion dollars) want is for them to be given the right to redevelop the park. They want to fix up the stadium, put up a parkade, put up condos, build retail space and redevelop the historic buildings to be useful and revenue generators. In exchange for making all this money on this prime downtown real estate, they want to run the football team knowing it will lose money in the short and medium term.

This makes the endeavor economically viable, the city gets lots of tax revenue, the underused area get much needed fix ups (it is basically empty buildings with ashphalt around it now) the Hunt group makes millions and we get football back.
Secondly those who question Mr Hunt, he has a stellar record in Ottawa, taking the Ottawa 67s hockey team from financial ruin to one of the most successful teams in the entire country at the junior level. They average over 7000 fans a game for junior hockey. He promotes it as family entertainment and will do the same in football. The other partners have been entrenched in the Ottawa community for decades so they are local and wealthy.

This sounds like the perfect situation to me.
The only real hurdle is the city government so lets cross our fingers on this one.

Congrats on getting a fanchise again. I certainly hope for all the fans that this one works out ownership wise!

Congrats to ALL Ottawa CFL fans. Just don't name it the Rough Riders please. Keep it the Renegades and keep that kicka$$ logo they had.

The thing that puzzles me over Lansdowne is that it seems to be right on the property of the National Capital Commission. Now it isn’t, it’s on city property, but still, you would think there would be funds from the NCC towards Lansdowne since it seems so close in proximity. I don’t know though the whole structure there. But it’s strange that there is plenty of money for the NCC and museums but in a very visible part of Ottawa, they are at wits end on what should be done with the park. Although agree, it’s a very complicated issue with so many factors involved.

Well, whatever, I hope it gets done and football is back in Ottawa, this time with a local ownership group that knows the city better than anyone.

Maybe Hunt can get Ray Emery involved, he might be out of a job soon and looking for employment if he doesn’t get his act together. :wink:

It’s not on the NCC property as such but they’ve still had discussion with the NCC. The NCC is open to playing along if any of the Lansdowne Park plans “overlap” with NCC land (like a bridge or something like that).

Tue, March 25, 2008

If they build it...

By KENNETH JACKSON, SUN MEDIA

click here

With all the naysayers spewing so much negativity,

it's nice to hear this excitement from one of the owners

an excerpt...

Shenkman, [who] yesterday told the Sun
the CFL stamp of approval is exciting news.

"(Today) is the kickoff and we're very excited.

After (today) we have to get going," he said.

"We just think if it's done properly
that we could make a good go of it ...

We want to have some fun

and we want to be successful."

its about Time IMO... I can't wait!

Council will deny it.

I don't think they will deny it for the following reasons.

1)The city needs money big time right now.To cover the costs of city services etc.

2)They have been looking for extra money some where to build the new capital music hall.

3)They need money for the new rapid transit.This again will help in this area.

4)They want to up grade landsowne park but of course money is needed.So again this will help.

Good Q&A on the 67's site.

Time to set your reservations, people! Refunded if no team takes the field.

Now we need one more team like in quebec city or halifax to complete the cfl with 5 teams in the east and 5 teams in the west. glad ottawa is back.and now winnepeg moves back to the west.

That then makes sense CRF what you say about overlapping lands.