Canadian Football League

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Canadian Football League says "No" to Ottawa in 2007

Canadian Football League commissioner Tom Wright has confirmed that Ottawa won't re-enter the loop until 2008 at the earliest.
As the three groups hoping to revive professional football in Ottawa prepare to make presentations to the league's franchise committee in Toronto, a timetable to kick off in 2007 has been discarded. So have meetings that were initially scheduled for Thursday, but were postponed yesterday because of CFL scheduling conflicts.
The league office produced a document for the groups laying out a schedule specifying a "negotiation period" between Sept. 11 and 22. A meeting between the league's chosen bidder and the CFL board of governors was to occur on Sept. 29, and the league also set Oct. 31 as a closing date for a sale.
"We had a timetable that spoke to when we wanted to do things; (but) as we were going through it, we wanted to make sure we slowed down and did it right," Wright said. "Ultimately, we decided the best thing to do was to hope for good dialogue with the groups.... If we were going to do it for '07, we would have to make a decision now."
Wright said the decision took place after the league received letters of intent earlier this month. He also said the league was committed to selecting a group with a "local connection," suggesting that was the best way to assure Ottawa fans the team would be stable for the long term.
"We hope to tell them that these (owners) are legitimate and will be there," Wright said.
Postponing a team startup until 2008 or beyond is a nod to Bill Palmer, a former Rough Rider and amateur coach with the Myers Riders, and his consortium of U.S. financiers. Palmer's group, which recently added an unnamed Ottawa investor, indicated to the league weeks ago that there wasn't enough time to produce a competitive and financially viable club by next spring.
The Golden Gate and Frank D'Angelo bids, both of which wanted to begin play next year, have been forced to alter their plans and submit proposals that address a 2008 launch.
Golden Gate's bid has secured a local tie in Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt, who would serve as team president. D'Angelo's bid is without a direct Ottawa link thus far.
"We'll bring in as many local people as we can, but my hands are tied because I've been told to sit on them," D'Angelo said.
By delaying the proceedings, Wright has also ensured that the league will have eight teams when he leaves his post after the Grey Cup game in late November. There had been an early push to get back to Ottawa quickly for the sake of the commissioner's legacy.
"Anyone who knows me knows the most important thing for me is to get it right," Wright said. "I'm more concerned with the best thing happening than having the timing linked to me. If it does happen in 2008, I'll know it has some link to me. I didn't take this job to stand up and get applause. In fact, I've taken a lot of darts."


Post a Comment

<< Home