67s team owner Hunt, developers chasing team
The Canadian Football League is about to take another kick at re-establishing a team in Ottawa.
The league is said to be close to a deal that would award a conditional franchise to a group headed by Ottawa 67s junior hockey club owner Jeff Hunt and include prominent developers Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and William Shenkman.
Hunt, through a spokesman, declined comment on negotiations with the CFL, citing the "sensitivity of the discussions." CFL commissioner Mark Cohon expressed similar caution through his spokesman.
Whether the franchise becomes more than just a team on paper depends on plans to revitalize Lansdowne Park and Frank Clair Stadium, which has served as the home of the CFL’s Rough Riders and Renegades with a capacity of 28,826. However, the lower section of the 47-year-old southside stands was condemned last September.
The damaged stands are due to come down this summer. The city has begun the process of revitalizing the entire park. Public consultations have concluded and Ottawa will soon put forth what it generally wants to see in a redevelopment and invite designs.
"The designs will be built around that public consultation," said Doug Moore, venture projects manager for the city’s Real Properties and Assets Management department.
"We’ll come up with a short list of firms and then move on to the next stage, the actual design, and one proponent will be successful."
Construction of the southside stands and other aspects of the revitalization — which could include office and apartment towers and retail outlets — could follow.
The group might be eyeing 2010 as the team’s return date.
Ottawa found itself without a CFL team when the Rough Riders folded after the 1996 season. The franchise was reborn in 2002 as the Renegades, but lasted four seasons before it too died.