You'd think the announcement that the Ottawa Renegades were once again for sale would come as bad news to fans. But at Local Heroes on Bank St., it's just the opposite.
Mike Lafleur, 34, sits at the bar, sipping a beer while munching on wings. He bought season tickets last year for him and his sons, aged six and eight.
Lafleur says Bernie Glieberman, who owns 51% of the club, and his son Lonie single-handedly ruined the franchise, forcing him to find another Sunday afternoon activity to do with the boys.
"During that Mardi Gras game, there were all kinds of girls lifting their shirts in the stands and so many drunks," he said. "I can't bring my kids to a game like that ... If they bring in new owners, I would buy tickets."
The announcement that the Gades were for sale came from the CFL yesterday morning, putting the team's 2006 season in limbo. The league is working to find a potential buyer after the team lost almost $4 million last year. Owners Bernie Glieberman and Bill Smith appear unwilling to absorb another year of losses.
Terry McGrath has been a season ticket holder for 20 years, but that doesn't mean he'll stay loyal forever.
"I didn't get tickets for next season," he said. "It's because of the Gliebermans."
McGrath, a retiree in his mid-60s, says the team went downhill more than ever under the Gliebermans last season. He's excited at the prospect of new ownership, adding he'll buy tickets when a new owner steps in.
"It's great entertainment," he said. "It's an affordable, great way to spend a fall afternoon."
But not everyone had the foresight to avoid buying tickets. Geoff Hutchinson, 22, bought a set of 2006 tickets with a friend. Now he's worried there won't be a season.
"I could find a million other ways to waste a hundred bucks," he said.
While he says he enjoyed events such as Mardi Gras day, Hutchinson welcomes new ownership.
"If a guy like (Senators owner Eugene) Melnyk steps in, he'll pay to get the good players and the team will be a competitor," he said.
OTTAWA FOOTBALL OWNERSHIP WOES
- Oct. 17, 1991: Bernie Glieberman purchases the Rough Riders from the CFL and appoints son Lonie club president.
- February 1994: After announcing $5.8 million in losses in the two previous seasons, Glieberman sells the franchise for $1.8 million to Bruce Firestone.
- 1995: Chicago millionaire Horn Chen takes the helm of the bankrupt team. Two 3-15 seasons later, the Rough Riders owe more than $600,000. Revenue Canada freezes the club's assets.
- Nov. 6, 1996: The CFL revokes the franchise.
- Oct. 16, 2001: An investment group led by Brad Watters announces it is bringing the CFL back to Ottawa.
- September 2004: The Gliebermans contact the Renegades about becoming partners in the team.
- May 2005: Co-majority shareholders Bill Smith and Randy Gillies reach a settlement, paving the way for Bernie Glieberman to take over controlling interest of the Renegades. Smith acquires Gillies' 30% and Rick Baker's 10%. Smith then sells 51% of the team to Glieberman, with whom he will become partners.
- July 2005: Club president Lonie Glieberman launches the team's infamous Mardi Gras promotion, a contest in which a female fan won $1,000 for collecting the most beaded necklaces from male fans who were given the jewelry when they entered the stadium. The promotion sparked controversy after at least one female fan lifted her shirt in the stands. The team eventually bowed to public pressure and axed the contest in late August.
- March 22, 2006: The CFL announces the team is up for sale after losing $4 million in 2005.