'Gades decide rich need to be richer

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

The Renegades have finally made their first moves of the off-season: Not in ownership, management or player signings, mind you, but with some significant bumping and slashing of ticket prices at Frank Clair Stadium.

It marks the first change in admission to an Ottawa game after a freeze that covered the team's first three years.

Fans who already pay the most for their seats will be hit hardest when the team mails out its 2005 price list to season ticket holders Jan. 14, the Sun has learned.

Those in the first 39 rows of Section E overlooking midfield from the northside who paid about $568 (including taxes) last year will have to fork over $789.75 this time around. That price, however, will also include a mandatory $125 entry fee to a VIP lounge under the grandstand that was optional in 2004.

It's estimated that only about 30% of those who sat in those seats purchased the pass.

Fans who balk at paying for it now will be offered seats in Section D or F.

The "bucket seats" in sections C, D, F and G are also being bumped about $90 for the season, to $614.25 including taxes.

A look at other team websites will show the hikes mean Frank Clair Stadium will continue to have the most expensive seats in the CFL outside of Montreal, where a season's VIP Platinum pass is $1,130.

"Other people set their prices and we have to set ours," said Renegades president Brad Watters. "We're trying to be fair, and trying to make the team viable for the future and get as many people to the games as we can."

To that end, game day prices for tickets in the upper south side stands will be reduced this season. Seats that cost $43 (before taxes) will now be $35, while those that went for $36 will now run $25.

Season ticket prices in the southside stands will virtually remain the same and still be a distinct discount from game day prices, as will many seats in the northside.

The Renegades campaign will boast a season ticket can be had for as little as $29.25 per game or as much as $79 a game.

"We had a price freeze for three years," said Watters. "We're not trying to catch up all in one year, but at some point you have to have an increase.

"We know where the demand is, the 8,000 seats people really want. We have to sell the other seats. We're trying to keep it very reasonable for everybody."

CAPACITY SHRINKS

The club is also introducing an easy way to reduce the number of empty seats, as the stadium's capacity will also shrink noticeably from 27,695 with the closing of three end sections -- AA on the southside and A and I on the northside.

The family zone will be expanded in Section B.

Another new look will see the visitors' bench move to the northside, while the Renegades remain on the southside.


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