Pro football is here to stay in Ottawa, the new majority owners of the Renegades promised yesterday, and Bernie and Lonie Glieberman vowed to go all out to ensure the team plays in front of a full house.
In the short term, the Gliebermans will help fill Frank Clair Stadium with a one-day seat sale June 25, giving fans the chance to buy 2005 season tickets for $99. The discount seats will be sold at the SilverCity movie theatre in Gloucester.
"This is our way of creating a real connection with the community and a way to make season tickets ... affordable for everyone," said Lonie, who was named team president.
Both Gliebermans said they learned valuable lessons from their previous ownership of the Ottawa Rough Riders.
'REWRITE THE RECORD'
"Life is all about second chances," said Lonie. "It took Christopher Columbus three tries before he reached North America."
His family's first foray into the CFL in Ottawa "didn't go as well as we had hoped ... so we're back to rewrite the record. We felt guilty when (the Rough Riders franchise) folded in 1996," he said. "We wanted to come back and do it right this time."
Bernie, who's amassed a fortune through real estate development in the U.S., said he's buying the Renegades "for the very long term."
"My biggest mistake was leaving Ottawa in the first place," he said.
Both men acknowledged that the team will lose money in the next few years, but Bernie said that won't scare him into selling out. "Would I like to lose money for a long time? No. Can I afford to? Yes."
When he owned the Rough Riders a decade ago, Bernie said, "I had no idea I would lose the kind of money I did. This time when I looked at investing in the team I was mentally prepared to lose more money than I probably will. It's like going to Las Vegas with $2,000 in your pocket and only losing $1,000 ... you go back home feeling like you made money."
Lonie said it will probably be five years before the team breaks even financially, and estimated it could make money once the team consistently draws 24,000 fans a game.
CFL commissioner Tom Wright appeared relieved the ownership issue has been resolved.
"We would have liked to see it happen earlier," he said.
MASSIVE SEAT SALE
Almost half the seats in Frank Clair Stadium will be available for bargain-hungry football fans during a one-day sale later this month.
A Renegades club spokesman says up to 6,500 season tickets in the upper deck on the south side and as many as 5,000 more in the north side stands will go on sale for $99 for the season June 25.
The only confirmed venue for the sale is the SilverCity theatre complex in Gloucester, but the team also hopes to sell the tickets by phone, on its website and through Capital Tickets. There will be no restrictions on the number of tickets a fan can purchase.