Thursday, April 23, 2009

Good News For Ottawa And The CFL

It looks like the CFL might be returning to Ottawa yet again----of course lets just hope in Saskatchewan that they don't want to be the Rough Riders again!!!!

Franchise holders get nod from council
The Globe and Mail
Thu 23 Apr 2009
Byline: David Naylor

The potential return of the CFL to Ottawa got a big boost yesterday when Ottawa city council voted 14-9 to enter 60 days of negotiation on the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park - including the reconstruction of Frank Clair Stadium - with a group that owns a conditional CFL franchise.
"It's the best possible news for us today," said Ottawa 67s owner Jeff Hunt, one of four partners who own the conditional CFL franchise. "We just won a round of the playoffs and we get to savour that. It's an enormously important part of the process but we wake up tomorrow knowing we have another round or two before we're finished."
The proposal from Hunt's group had been rivalled by one from Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who wants to build an outdoor stadium in suburban Kanata, which would house a Major League Soccer team, next to the Scotiabank Place arena.
At one point in recent days, it appeared the city was leaning toward a deal that would have redeveloped Lansdowne Park without an outdoor stadium while building one in Kanata. But that movement fell apart when Melnyk said he was unwilling to accommodate the CFL as well as professional soccer.
"I declined the opportunity to put both teams in the same stadium," Melnyk said in a statement released on Tuesday. "The risk was too high - and I was not prepared to put the stability of the whole organization on the line for a last- minute deal - however tempting it was."
That left council with the choice of reopening the question of what to do with Lansdowne or voting to sit down with the Hunt group and try to come up with a deal.
"City council made two important decisions today," Hunt said. "That a world- class outdoor stadium is a priority, which is huge. And the second is that the outdoor stadium needs to be at Lansdowne. So now city staff have a mandate under terms of the motion to negotiate a partnership with [our group].
While Melnyk's proposal for a Kanata stadium is not dead, it will not be dealt with until after the Lansdowne stadium issue is resolved. Assuming a deal to fix Frank Clair Stadium can be reached, it seems highly unlikely the city would authorize a second outdoor stadium.
The basics of the Hunt group proposal calls for the city to invest $97- million reconstructing Frank Clair Stadium and making improvements to the Ottawa Civic Centre, home of the 67s.
The Hunt group would then invest $140-million in commercial development at Lansdowne Park and operate a CFL team out of the stadium.
A 30-year agreement would see the Hunt group responsible for all operation and upkeep of the park, which currently costs the city $3.8-million a year.
"I'm optimistic that we can come upon an agreement that meets their criteria in the next 60 days that will allow [the redevelopment of Lansdowne] to prevail, " Hunt said.
The Hunt group, which includes local businessmen John Ruddy, Roger Greenberg and William Shenkman, had been awarded a CFL expansion franchise at the end of last winter on the condition they secure a deal to reconstruct the stadium.
Hunt said the latest step allows the group to continue shooting for its target of joining the CFL for the 2011 season.
"That's the plan if we can bring the proposal back to council for, hopefully, a positive vote," Hunt said. "I think we can at least say there's no delays as a result of anything today ... 2011 is still the goal."
Yesterday's vote was also good news for the CFL, which is hoping to follow up the recent announcement of a new stadium for Winnipeg with one in Ottawa.
The last CFL team in Ottawa folded after only four seasons, before the 2006 season.
"We remain excited about bringing the CFL back to the national capital," CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said in a statement. "A multi-use stadium, as part of a vibrant, new place for people in the heart of Ottawa, would be an important piece of social and economic infrastructure. It would make a tremendous contribution to the quality of life in Ottawa, something that's critical to its future prosperity, and we're pleased that it is one step closer to reality today."

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