Renegades for sale

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

The Ottawa Renegades are officially for sale, but it's still not known if they will hit the field in 2006.

The CFL board of governors decided yesterday to spend the next two or three weeks searching for a new owner and doing an operational assessment of the struggling franchise.

Commissioner Tom Wright said the board will then make a "longer-term" decision early next month, when one of three solutions is likely to be determined: fold the franchise, suspend it for a year or have the other eight teams prop it up financially until a new owner can be found.

In other words, not much new came out of yesterday's board meeting, which included Winnipeg Football Club chairman Ken Hildahl and Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer.

Wright held a nationwide conference call with the media late yesterday afternoon to discuss the meeting, but he didn't have much concrete to stay.

Majority owner Bernie Glieberman, who isn't ready to lose a projected $5 million this season, will continue to pay the bills, Wright said, but for how long remains anyone's guess.

"Until they get into discussions with prospective owners, that's a question that will probably stay loose for a while," Hildahl said. "From a league perspective, we want to get some definite focus on where we're headed."

It sounds like it will be at least two more weeks until there is any kind of focus. In the meantime, a committee will examine "a series of operational issues," like the team's readiness for the 2006 season and the current states of the front office, marketing and ticketing, Wright said.

That will provide a clearer picture of what it would cost the league's other eight teams to keep the Renegades running should the board decide to go down that route while searching for a new owner.

Hildahl said yesterday's board meeting didn't even begin to address how much it would cost each team to keep the Renegades running, but it's believed it would be in the neighbourhood of $300,000 for an entire season.

FACT-FINDING

"Most of today's meeting was fact-finding," Hildahl said.

Wright said he "believes" there are potential owners out there, but he has not had discussions with anyone in particular. Wright, along with CFL chairman Tom Robinson and B.C. Lions owner David Braley, will spearhead the search for a saviour.

It's going to be a tough sell, because the franchise is in quicksand. No one is selling tickets or sponsorships, the fan base is turned off and training camp begins in less than two months.

Wright, who has taken heat for allowing the Ottawa situation to deteriorate so quickly and for letting Bernie and Lonie Glieberman back in the league last year after two ownership failures in the 1990s, put the blame squarely on his own shoulders.

"As the commissioner of the league, whenever there is a situation where the integrity of the game has been challenged and the integrity of the league has been challenged, then I take responsibility for that," he said.


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