Despite an improving product and entertaining (south-side upper deck) sideshow, the Renegades are expecting a small crowd for tonight's game against Calgary.
Smaller, in fact, than the average number of Louisianans that would get off their front porch to attend a CFL game 10 years ago.
"I think we'll hit around 16,000," team president Lonie Glieberman said yesterday. "I told the staff we've got to beat the attendance we had with the Shreveport Pirates."
Glieberman said the Pirates drew an average of 18,000 their first year and 15,500 in Year 2 when he presided over the CFL expansion franchise in the mid-90s.
The Renegades attracted 18,899 to their home opener against the Montreal Alouettes, a night that saw Ottawa pull off a dramatic, come- from-behind victory as well as one lucky lady win $1,000 by collecting the most beads in a Mardi Gras Madness contest that is to continue through the season.
In what he called a "long-term process", Glieberman hopes to "create interest and awareness" in the Renegade players. He would like to see as much continuity with the roster as possible and wants to sign cornerstone players to long term contracts. He also hopes a Renegades TV show that debuts on the NewRo July 26 will help. Former Rough Rider Ken Evraire will be the host, with players and cheerleaders having their own segments.
"We've got to introduce the team to the people," said Glieberman. "We've got to make them want to care.
"The hardcore fans in the '60s and '70s had an attachment to the team. We've got to reconnect that attachment.
"Bigger than anything else was the fact (the players) were here for 10 years."
EXTRA POINTS: Fed up with a league- leading number of penalties, coach Joe Paopao is going to start fining players who draw flags. Certain penalties will cost individuals $50. "Some things you have to do," said Paopao. "Fifty dollars is a lot of money. It'll grab their attention."