Ticats on the road to stability

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:27 PM ET

It’s the year of the Tiger and that normally means success down the 401 in Hamilton for the Tiger-Cats.

It’s a cute story, no doubt. The Chinese calendar celebrates the year of the tiger every dozen years — and in three of the past four such years, the Tiger-Cats have made it to the Grey Cup.

But the days of the Tabbies needing a Chinese calendar to dictate successes are long gone.

These Ticats are a franchise on the road to stability, if they’re not already there.

And that’s on the field and in the board room where the team, while not yet showing a profit, is no longer bleeding red ink like it has in the past.

With two months to go before the season begins, president Scott Mitchell revealed yesterday that the team has already eclipsed season-ticket and corporate revenue from where the team was at the beginning of last season. The team is at 94% on season-ticket renewals and on pace for 1,700 new season seats.

That’s not to say there is not more growth that has to happen. Mitchell explained that for the team to be truly healthy they would require another 30-40% growth in the season-ticket base over the next few years — but he felt that was doable.

On the field the team is returning a nucleus the size of which is unheard of in previous years.

“We’re going to have less changes on the field this year than we’ve had in either of the past two,” Ticats GM Bob O’Billovich said.

The Tabbies recently extended the contracts of both O’Billovich and head coach Marcel Bellefeuille bringing another layer of continuity to the club.

O’Billovich joked his off-season, while more expensive, was much easier as he wasn’t out trying to lure players to Hamilton, he was merely spending his time and the team’s money negotiating to keep what he already had.

“Bob and I are looking forward to an exciting season,” Mitchell said. “We are very well positioned to be a legitimate contender for the Grey Cup.”

The Tabbies are coming off a 9-9 season that saw Kevin Glenn establish himself as the team’s starting quarterback, although Bellefeuille said he’ll have to earn that position again in training camp where Quinton Porter is expected to push the veteran signal caller.

The Ticats are so stacked in returning Canadian talent there is even talk of going with a lineup of more than just the minimum number of non-imports, although Bellefeuille said that is something that will be worked out during training camp.

O’Billovich and Bellefeuille will conduct one more free-agent camp this weekend in California — O’Billovich denied recent Oakland Raiders cut JaMarcus Russell would be in attendance — and then it’s full steam ahead to see if the Ticats can make the Year of the Tiger memorable in Hamilton one more time.


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