Is it too soon for me to get excited about the return of the CFL to Ottawa?
We have been hearing for years that Ottawa was on the verge to returning to the dance. With the latest news from last week that Ottawa city council had voted in favour of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to return Lansdowne Park into a viable location for football I believe I'm allowed to celebrate, aren't I?
Now there are hurdles. When was the last time the terms "construction" and "on schedule" were ever used in the same sentence and it meant something positive? As someone who had to wait for his condo to be built many years ago I have the same level of expectations for construction companies as I do for pizza If it's 30 minutes or it's free, I expect my pie to arrive at the 29:57 mark.
The other issue is of course scheduling. How do you have an odd number of teams? The idea of at least one team on a bye every week seems crazy and makes my head hurt. But least we have a team back in our nations capital.
Hopefully the momentum that comes with the return of the O-Dot (Sorry got tired of writing "Ottawa" & "nations capital") and the problems with an unbalanced schedule will act as a catalyst for the addition of a 10th team. The CFL may be better served with 10 teams, 6 making the playoffs and that three down football will be played in close proximity to where our Prime Minister calls home. (Ha! Found a new way to mention Ottawa without saying Ottawa).
As for that other potentially 10th team, I'm hoping for a central Maritime location but I have no problem with Quebec City getting a franchise, really it feels like win-win.
To the issue of whether or not a team will work in Ottawa, I'm going to be an optimist here and say it should work. The 100% reduction in the Glieberman factor alone will play a massive role in the team's viability.
I'll give Lonnie credit for admitting in a Tim Baines column for the Ottawa SUN that he was way too young to run the team but that's about all I can say positive about the family. By the way I loved this quote from Lonnie from the same article:
"Mardi Gras was a good decision," said Glieberman. "A survey of more than 4,000 people showed that only 20% were offended by Mardi Gras. It was a fun promotion. The upper deck was virtually sold out and once we cancelled it, the upper deck was only half full. If you wanted to avoid it, you could sit in 18,000 other seats."
So in his mind pissing off "just" about 800 paying customers is seen as a win? Hey I love the many splendors that come with Mardi Gras but that number of angry fans was just waaaaay too high.
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I'm going to put my faith that the people in charge at the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group know what they're doing. You don't spend this much time and money unless you have done your due diligence.
The obvious storyline is the team will need to win to truly make the franchise successful. And really is there any fan base that deserves a winner more than Ottawa? Saskatchewan can cry and moan all they want about their recent spate of bad luck (I won't mention a number that is higher than 12 and less than 14 and has nothing to do with a certain TSN documentary) but that's nothing compared to the depths that had befallen on the Artist formally knows as the Rough Riders. The team has not had a winning season 1978! Read that last sentence again. The last time they won a playoff game was in 1982.
Now what I can't wait for is the the Ottawa Expansion Draft in December, 2013. As anyone who reads this column knows, I'm a sucker for a good draft. But an expansion draft is so much better than a regular one. Your normal draft is all about getting the best collegiate talent, an expansion draft is really more about failure and shame. Just who are the guys that the other eight teams feel are expendable? It's the equivalent of selecting from a group of players that basically were all picked last to play a pick up game. Please TSN broadcast this event! Just imagine the indignity of the last player taken. All right I'll calm down.
Let's leave on a positive note, shall we? The time is right for another team for several reasons. I think owners are smarter than in the past, they've learned from the models set by the Alouettes and TFC, build smaller, fan friendly stadium that are less expensive to operate. Also the level of Canadian talent is dramatically better than the last time Ottawa had a team. A new team will help to showcase our own home grown talent and, mathematically speaking, should help increase the odds of one day seeing a Canadian start at quarterback.
So here's hoping the stadium is built in time, the team is competitive sooner rather than later and the franchise can come up with an original name. Ma I suggest "Argo"? The movie did get a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Matthew Cauz is the Weekend Host for 'GAME DAY' on TSN 1050 Radio. Previously, he was a producer and football analyst for SUN TV where he appeared regularly on the “Casino Rama Grill Room” and he spent seven years working for TSN's “Off The Record”. Follow Matthew on Twitter @mcauz56.