OTTAWA — Following the approval and announcement of the expansion draft plan the Canadian Football League is one step closer to kickoff in the nation’s capital. For an update on what comes next for the Ottawa franchise, CFL.ca caught up with Jeff Hunt of the Ottawa ownership group.
CFL.ca: What are your thoughts on the plan for the expansion draft?
Jeff Hunt: We are delighted that the CFL Governors have given Ottawa an opportunity to be competitive right out of the gate. In so doing, they’ve strengthened the entire League and further demonstrated what we in Ottawa have been saying all along… the current CFL era is far more conducive to the success of all franchises, on and off the field.
CFL.ca: What is the next step towards unconditional franchise status for the team?
Jeff Hunt: Unconditional franchise status is intertwined with our partnership with the City of Ottawa to build a new stadium and revitalize Lansdowne Park. In the coming months, we will continue to develop final designs for the stadium and Lansdowne as we continue through the approval process. Our goal is to field a team for the 2013 season and we are still on track to meet that goal.
CFL.ca: With the goal to begin play being 2013, what is the timetable for hiring a general manager and the rest of the football staff?
Jeff Hunt: The timetable for hiring football staff is also linked to the broader Lansdowne project. Once shovels go into the ground our start date will be confirmed and we’ll need to ramp-up football operations. That may mean hiring a senior football operations person, a consultant or a scouting staff. We’ll confirm our staffing strategy over the next few months and then get down to the business of putting together a competitive team.
CFL.ca: And finally, the question everyone in Ottawa will want to know. Do you have a name for the team yet?
Jeff Hunt: The team nickname is still a question mark. A certain segment of our fan base hopes that we will bring back “Rough Riders” but we recognize that Saskatchewan has some concerns about that. Isn’t it great that, finally, we’re at the stage where this is becoming a serious issue? It means we’re getting close to kickoff.