Local "dream team" looks to "restore the glory" in the national capital
OTTAWA, March 25 /CNW/ - The Canadian Football League (CFL) has awarded a
conditional Ottawa franchise to a local "dream team" with a passion for the
game and a proven track record of success and service in the nation's capital,
Commissioner Mark Cohon announced today.
"We are delighted to award a franchise to Roger Greenberg, Jeff Hunt,
John Ruddy and William Shenkman, on the condition they can secure an agreement
with the city of Ottawa that will provide the team with access to a suitable
stadium," Cohon said today.
"We are confident that this is the dream team that can establish a
thriving Ottawa franchise, one worthy of this city's fans, its storied
football past, and the Canadian Football League's bright future."
The partners are:
- Roger Greenberg is Chairman and CEO of The Minto Group, a leading
builder, developer and manager of real estate, and an early backer of
the Ottawa Senators' bid to join the National Hockey League.
- Jeff Hunt, owner of the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League,
which has seen attendance quadruple under his leadership.
- John Ruddy, President of Trinity Development Group, a major developer
of retail centres across Canada, whose foundation has supported
several local charities, including the University of Ottawa's Heart
- William Shenkman, Chairman of the Shenkman Group of Companies, with a
long history of philanthropy in the community.
"Since the day I became Commissioner almost a year ago, I said we wanted
to go back to Ottawa, but we owed it to the fans in Ottawa, and everyone who
loves the CFL, to do it right," Cohon said.
"This is the right team with the right plan. What we need now is the
right facility. We realize that's a major piece of the puzzle, and there will
not be a team here until it's in place. But we did want our fans here and
across the country to know that the most important component of all - strong,
committed and in this case, local, ownership - is in place."
Canada's fourth largest urban area, the National Capital Region is an
ideal market for the CFL. More than 1.25 million people live in the greater
municipalities of Ottawa and Gatineau; many more live within an hour's drive
of Frank Clair Stadium.
With the ownership group's requirement to secure a stadium agreement with
the city of Ottawa and the extensive renovations that would be necessary, it
is believed that the earliest the team could take to the field would be no
sooner than the 2010 season.
"We want to thank the CFL Board of Governors for taking this step towards
welcoming us into the CFL family. Now we can commence discussions with the
city of Ottawa on the development of a business model for the revitalization
of Frank Clair Stadium," said Shenkman, who attended Rough Rider games with
his godfather, legendary CFL owner Sam Berger.
"Our goal is to create a fun family experience in a world class facility,
featuring a football team that's competitive on the field and high profile in
Ruddy used to talk football with the guy down the street, who just
happened to be legendary Rough Rider coach Frank Clair.
"We're proud Canadians, and this is our league, part of the fabric of our
country," he said.
"We've always felt that, without Ottawa in the CFL, there was a tear in
the fabric, and we intend to not only repair it, but make it stronger than
Greenberg stressed the group's deep Ottawa roots, strong business acumen,
experience in sports marketing and operations, and lifelong passion for the
game of Canadian football.
"The CFL is growing stronger, with attendance on the rise, a lucrative
television contract about to kick in, and an effective salary management
system in place. And this group and this region wants to be part of its bright
future," Greenberg said.
"As successful entrepreneurs deeply rooted in this community, we have
carefully analyzed the past struggles in this market, and we're confident we
can learn from others' mistakes and succeed," said Jeff Hunt, a former Rough
Rider season ticket holder who has attended eight Grey Cups.
"Ottawa has always had faithful and dedicated football fans. We plan to
provide them with a positive, entertaining experience, delivered in a modern
and comfortable environment and in both official languages, while establishing
a strong presence in the community."
About the Canadian Football League
Building on a strong past toward a strong future, the Canadian Football
League (CFL) celebrates the best of Canada's game with fans across the nation.
The 96th Grey Cup will be played in Montreal, QC, on November 23, 2008. For
additional information, visit www.CFL.ca.
For further information:
For further information: Jamie Dykstra, Manager, Communications,
Canadian Football League, O: (416) 865-2664, C: (647) 400-6235,
firstname.lastname@example.org; Randy Burgess, Vice President, Ottawa 67's Hockey Club, O:
(613) 232-6767 x229, C: (613) 327.9416, RBurgess@Ottawa67s.com