"Why CFL will work in Ottawa this time"

Ottawa Citizen:

During the brief and unfortunate time when Bernie and Lonie Glieberman owned the Ottawa Renegades, Jeff Hunt sat down with the father-and-son duo to compare notes.

Hunt, the owner of the Ottawa 67’s, observed that there was a lot of duplication between the two sports teams operating out of Lansdowne Park.

“We have parallel front-office infrastructure,” Hunt told the Gliebermans.

“Either you need to own me or I need to own you.”

It was purely an academic discussion. Hunt had no intention of either buying the Renegades, selling the 67’s or merging the two operations.

“I said, unfortunately that’s not going to happen, but that’s what needs to happen,” said Hunt this week from Edmonton, where he is attending the Grey Cup and CFL meetings. “They agreed. Little did I know that might have been the seed that led to where we are today.”

Indeed, it was a good thing for Hunt that the discussion remained hypothetical, setting the stage for his partnership today with Roger Greenberg, Bill Shenkman and John Ruddy. The difference between having a Glieberman or a Greenberg as your business partner is like the difference between an affliction of scarlet fever or Scarlett Johansson.

As Hunt once envisioned, when Ottawa’s CFL football team takes the field, it will operate alongside the 67’s and possibly a professional soccer franchise.

Hunt estimates that by combining two or three operations, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group will save $800,000 a year on staff and other costs.

“With two teams, it’s not double the work,” he said.

Those savings are just one of many reasons why Hunt thinks professional football is much more viable in Ottawa today than it was in the time of the Gliebermans or any of their predecessors.

To some people, of course, making another attempt at fielding a football team in Ottawa might seem like an exercise in futility. Why try a business model that’s been proven not to work?

Hunt knows that’s a fair question. But he also has a long and detailed answer.

The short version is that almost everything will be different from past failed attempts to make football work.

“We’ve taken a lot of liabilities and made them assets,” says Hunt. Including:

  • Obviously, a new stadium: “We’ve taken what is probably the worst facility in the CFL and we’re transforming it into the nicest facility in the CFL. The fan experience will be dramatically enhanced. The many flaws of Lansdowne have been dealt with.”

  • A more competitive team: “There were many reasons why the football team was weak. But in particular, Ottawa has never been in the CFL since the salary cap was both imposed and adhered to. They were not competitive in what was paid in salaries. That put them at a competitive disadvantage.” In addition, Hunt is optimistic about the outcome of meetings this weekend about more favourable terms to the expansion draft than those that the Renegades were subjected to.

  • More revenue: “The current 5-year, $80-million television deal with TSN expires in 2012. Even if that deal just got renewed at the same rate, that’s more than double the TV money that the Renegades got. The business model has improved.”

  • More effective marketing: “I’ve got 13 years of experience in the Ottawa sports market. The experience that (Renegades president) Brad Watters had was with the Toronto Rock. He took the Toronto Rock marketing program and attempted to do the same thing in Ottawa. We’ll market the team in a way that will resonate with the community.”

  • More time: “Time is a major asset for us. By the time we hit the field it will be five years of planning. The Renegades had something like five months before their first game.”

  • And perhaps most important, local ownership with deep pockets: “Every team in the league but Edmonton has had its significant struggles. In 2003, Calgary was worse than Ottawa. They found quality ownership and they’ve turned things around. CFL franchises have completely turned from significant distress to enormous success just by being better run, by having better ownership.”

Hunt predicts that, if a soccer franchise is secured, OSEG will draw more fans than the Senators.

“We will be the No. 1 sports and entertainment entity in the city,” he says. “We’ll have a very good story for corporate sponsors.”

All of which is why Hunt was willing to invest his 100-per-cent stake in the 67’s into a new business that includes the football team, plans for a soccer franchise and the retail and commercial development on the site.

“When you put it all together, you can see why we are very confident that this time around CFL football is going to have a very different reality and a very different experience in Ottawa.”

In other words, a far cry from the days of Bernie and Lonie.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/wil … z16aMkwWY9

I thought the article was starting with a reminder of a story Hunt told one time about giving Lonie G advice on how to run a team and Lonie did the exact opposite of everything. :lol:

Anyway…A lot of this is stuff you’ve all heard before, however what you can take from it is that the Ottawa media is not anti-CFL as it is perceived to be by some. They do have to report what’s going and they’ve made mistakes (announcing the firing of Renegades coaches when it didn’t happen was pretty bad). But they’re more than willing to report on the good as well as the bad. There just were times when the good was pretty hard to find.

what is oseg stand for? does hunt have a part ownership in the soccer situation? how deep are his pockets?

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, if I recall correctly.

I'm sure Hunt isn't startving by any means, but the Green berg family was named on the list 100 wealthiest Canadian. Roger Greenberg is in OSEG and has been its "business face". When there's a need to discuss the deal in front of city council, for example, Greenberg's the man.

I don't think Hunt is directly involved with the soccer part. Another man, John Pugh, joined the group some months back and he's the soccer guy. He's involved with the current Ottawa Fury soccer club, of which I know next to nothing. Soccer ain't my thing, but I'll probably check out a few games with friends.

As an add-on, another member of OSEG went to Carleton University and made a big contribution to reviving that program. They're getting close to their fund-raising target and hope to announce the return of the Carleton Ravens in the spring/summer.

Well at least of they have some people with capital they can float the team in the red a bit like bob young and braily do fir the other Ontario teams. I Bern praying for you guys for a long time. Cept I really wanted it to be the rough riders.

speaking of planning ahead, with the grey cup occuring late November 2012 and the proposed dispersal draft occuring Dec 2012, how soon do you think OSEG should be assembling a semblance of a coaching staff? Dec-Jan is typically when there's movement in the coaching ranks. So how do you plan your coaching staff based on the timing to get your team ready for a 2013 season? Way I see it your options are -

  1. Hire someone in the window between the Grey Cup and the draft, they get a couple weeks to get up to speed and select players
  2. Hire a head coach after the 2011 season, so that they have a year to prep, asses players in advance of the draft so that you're more prepared to select players that will fit the style of team the coach wants, and this way you're not pressed for finding someone really quick after the 2012 season
  3. Wait and see who is available or becomes available during the season that has experience and hire them
  4. Don't need a coaching staff before the draft, pick what you think is the best player available, coach can come later

Personally I would look to see if i can find a good coach after this upcoming season. So what if they don't have a team to coach in 2012 yet, i think if you wait you won't be able to fill the position with a good candidate. thoughts and opinions?

It's tricky because right now they don't even know for certain that they'll take the field in 2013. It could be 2014.

Assuming it IS 2013 (they should know by this summer), then they'll need a GM in place before long because they'll be involved in the 2012 college draft. I'm guessing that they'd hire a coach shortly after that.

Would a coach be willing to sit out an entire season?