Lansdowne proposal Ottawa's last shot

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:10 PM ET

The city of Ottawa won’t get another kick at bringing back the CFL if council decides to vote “No” to the Lansdowne Live proposal.

67’s owner Jeff Hunt, a front man for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, told Sun Media Wednesday the hopes of the CFL returning to Frank Clair Stadium will be dead if the city doesn’t pass the $250-million redevelopment plan in a controversial vote Friday.

Hunt admitted he’s tense.

“I’m nervous. Very much so. This has been a long time coming,” said Hunt. “I really think that this is the last shot for CFL football in Ottawa. If people think that another scenario is going to emerge in the years to come (to bring back the CFL), that is an enormous longshot.

“This is the ideal convergence of the right people at the right time and in the right place. If this were to fall apart, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the CFL is dead in Ottawa.”

CFL commissioner Mark Cohon will likely deliver that message himself Thursday when he has five minutes to address council at 1:05 p.m. His spokesman Matt Maychuk declined an interview Wednesday, but said Cohon will point out the league’s positives.

One of the keys in the Lansdowne Live proposal is the promise of the 2014 Grey Cup being held here.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young told Sun Media he’s hopeful city council will say yes to Lansdowne Live.

“Ottawa is one of the founding franchises of the CFL. A modern facility is one of the key elements for rebuilding a long-term, financially stable, CFL team in Ottawa,” said Young in an e-mail.

“Sports fans across Canada, and football fans in particular, are on the edge of our seats hoping that the city of Ottawa will recognize the importance of public facilities to the health of our social democracy and the promotion of sport and fitness in Canadian society.”

Hunt really isn’t sure which way this vote will go. Former Rough Riders Jock Climie and Mark Kosmos are expected to be among the speakers.

“All we know, and what’s been said, is that it’s going to be very close. We all know the ‘Yes,’ the ‘No’ and the ‘Maybe’,” said Hunt. “The wildcard is: Where are the ‘Maybe’ votes? That’s what will ultimately make this proposal sink or swim: It’s going to be what the ‘Maybes’ decide.

“That’s why I’m nervous. I can’t sit here and tell you today that we have the absolute and necessary number of ‘Yes’ votes. It’s going be a nerve-wracking couple of days until the vote.”

Hunt has a big stake here on a couple of fronts. A decision not to accept Lansdowne Live doesn’t mean the future of the 67’s at the Civic Centre will be in doubt, but potential upgrades won’t be made.

“I can’t say on the 67’s front I’ve been worried about our future, but by the same token the future of Lansdowne very much effects the 67’s and the Civic Centre,” said Hunt.

“So, would it be comforting for me to know that Lansdowne is going to be preserved, and more specifically the Civic Centre, is going to have a future here for another 30 years — obviously that would be tremendous.”


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