A dismal football season for Renegades owners will have a happy ending this Sunday.
The six-man consortium from southern Ontario should take some solace in the fact that -- although the team they bankroll suffered through an injury-riddled 5-13 campaign that once again failed to produce a single sellout at Frank Clair Stadium -- the park will be packed for this weekend's Grey Cup.
And after losses believed to exceed $4 million through the franchise's first two seasons, the Renegades are expected to make anywhere from between $2-3 million off events this week.
NOT THE PERFECT MATCH
"The Grey Cup gives us stability we haven't had," president/minority shareholder Brad Watters said yesterday. "It gives us the opportunity to recoup some of the start-up costs ... will it get us out (of the red)? I don't know. But it will give us a solid base to help us move forward and get on track."
For the Renegades, a B.C. Lions-Toronto Argos matchup isn't exactly the thing dreams were made of. When it became evident Ottawa wouldn't be playing in the Grey Cup game, their wish was to have the Alouettes in the championship, if only to ensure the Montreal fanatics would swoop in and purchase any unclaimed tickets. Heading into last weekend, Watters himself spoke of his preference for an Als-Saskatchewan showdown, as the wild fans of the Roughriders were certain to make the trip and add that spice to the party that has made them famous.
But yesterday, Watters said the game was 94% sold out now, and that he expected the last of the 3,000 remaining tickets to be purchased at some point between Thursday and Saturday. He also said that 59 of the 62 corporate suites had already been booked and that filling the last three would be no problem.
With the expansion of Frank Clair Stadium to a 51,242 capacity, record-high prices included 850 seats in a specially erected section before the Northside grandstand. Those tickets, which were going for $499 and included an apparel package, lunch and access to an executive club, were all snapped up some time ago, Watters had to tell a group looking to purchase 30 of them yesterday.
Watters also said there is not a single seat remaining at the $279 price point, and that all of the $169 tickets have been sold as well.
That would leave only $199 tickets left.
Watters said that, after conversations with Argos executives, he expects an invasion of fans from the Big Smoke to trip down the 401 and claim the ducats Ottawans don't grab.
"I would think that if it would have been (Montreal-Saskatchewan) we would have been sold out (yesterday)," said Watters, who, like his partners, can essentially call the Argos their home-town team. "But no matter what, our goal was for a sellout, that's what it comes down to and that's what we're going to get."