If you’re looking to read about any updates regarding the progress of Ottawa’s CFL franchise check out the local news section of the city’s newspapers before flipping to the sports pages.
The whole question of whether a team will ever hit the field is in the hands of the City of Ottawa and its municipal politicians.
The issue of whether Frank Clair Stadium and Landsdowne Park, the proposed home of the new franchise is at the root of a debate between city council and four Ottawa businessman who have led the charge to get the CFL back in the city.
On March 25, 2008, four local investors, led by Ottawa 67’s owner Jeff Hunt, were awarded a conditional franchise after paying a $7-million fee to bring the CFL back to eastern Ontario.
The team would play at a redeveloped Frank Clair Stadium as part of a proposed overhaul of the property called Landsdowne Live as submitted by Hunt and his team.
When the conditional franchise was awarded, league commissioner Mark Cohon stated the next step in the process was ensuring Ottawa had the “right facility” to accommodate a CFL team.
The deal will only move forward if an agreement with the city is struck to build an appropriate stadium. That’s where things stand now.
Now, after months of discussions and town hall meetings debating the pros and cons of redeveloping Landsdowne Park, a pivotal presentation at Ottawa City Hall on Aug. 26 may determine the future of the team.
“We’re making good progress with city staff to reach an agreement in principle that we hope meets the concerns and exceeds the expectations of council and the public at large. But the deal has to be beneficial to both sides for it to work,” said team investor Roger Greenberg.
With the city’s approval, it will be first down and goal to go.
Without it, the CFL may never run another play in Ottawa.
The residents of Ottawa have spoken.
Some want a new look Landsdowne Park that includes an updated Frank Clair Stadium as the home of a CFL team while others want the city to take a different direction with the jewel on the Rideau Canal.
“I want the city to give Hunt and his boys the go ahead to rebuild Landsdowne and bring back CFL football,” said Glen Gillette.
“It’s important that we rebuild the park and revitalize that area of town. It’s part of Ottawa’s identity.”
Glebe resident Rita Proulx is not sure that rebuilding the stadium is the way to go.
“A football team in Ottawa has already failed twice, who says it will be successful this time,” Proulx said.
“I think that city councillors really have to think this one out … A mistake could affect us for years.”