Get this right for us, CFL

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:27 AM ET

Right now it's still just a hunch, speculation, an educated guess. Nonetheless, it is a common belief from most everybody that's either in The Know or in The Know's neighbourhood.

There will be a CFL team back on Bank St. next year, they say. Take it to the bank.

Three groups want a shot at turning Frank Clair Stadium into their very own bakery (where they make bread? Another word for money? Get it?) despite the fact no one else who has ever tried could get the recipe quite right.

But these prospective owners have plenty of dough and ambition, plus the league is soaring like it hasn't in years, so there is good reason for optimism.

Theirs, and therefore also yours.

You should probably hold your horses, though. There appears to be an obstacle that could force an about-face, like "hi-ho" Silver "and away" might pull at the Grand Canyon.

It's a $3.5-million franchise fee.

'TOUGH SELL'

"That's probably going to be a tough sell," says one of The Know's residents. "I think some people might have the view that (the new owners) will be looking at enough of a deficit already."

Like a $4-5 million operating loss the first year, maybe.

Here's the thing about the league asking Ottawa for such a large franchise fee now: The Renegades could have been purchased for $1 in April, so long as the buyer consented to wearing all the red ink.

What's happened in the past five months to drive the price tag up $3,499,999?

Also, there'd still be a team in the nation's capital had the CFL not been so careless with the one that last folded. Isn't it about time the league admit the mistakes it made by promising the Brad Watters group a salary cap, blowing an off-season's worth of marketing by waiting until the eve of training camp before allowing the Gliebermans to assume ownership, and permitting Tom Wright to keep the same travel agent even after the guy had made the mistake of sending the commissioner on a vacation when the CFL was facing a crisis once before?

If there has to be a franchise fee, why not keep it to the $700,000 the league supposedly had to pay the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to move east from the West Division when Ottawa was turfed last winter?

It's already been reduced once -- from the $6 million the league was going to ask for originally -- as has been the demand for a security bond (from $10 million to $3.5 million) that comes with an insistence the owner maintains a $4-million bank balance.

Convincing the governors to back off on the franchise fee some more won't be easy. They'll consider such a move to be devaluing membership in their exclusive club. But allowing the new owner in Ottawa to spend his money on making the team work rather than throwing another $3.5- million burden on his back might help those who dispute the popular opinion that the governors are a shortsighted bunch.

"This isn't about 2007 or 2008," Calgary Stampeders president (and chairman of the franchise committee) Ted Hellard said on the radio a while back. "This is about 2022."

Prove it.

Meanwhile, it's easy to imagine the league fumbling away this opportunity altogether.

What if the best group --generally considered to be Golden Gate Capital Corp., which is headed by former political aide Anthony Primerano and now includes highly respected 67's owner Jeff Hunt -- decides to balk at the franchise fee while one or the other two has no problem paying it?

Without knowing all the identities and intentions of the 8-10 American investors led by Jesse Palmer's dad Bill, or the details surrounding a third group fronted by vocalist/beer man Frank D'Angelo and his silent, billionaire partner Dr. Barry Sherman, you have to believe the best chance at success for a team would be one that has Hunt aboard.

ALL ABOUT MONEY?

But would the league think so? Or would the governors blindly jump at the $3.5 million and, say, all the zeros associated behind Sherman's name?

You'd like to think common sense will prevail, that franchise fee or no franchise fee the CFL recognizes the opportunity it has with the Hunt reputation leading what will surely be the last grasp in the capital.

Hopefully, it won't be influenced by its own greed or belief in a knight with whiter, shinier armour coming this way in the future. Those in The Know say it's going to happen now.

Keep your fingers crossed that the CFL has changed --at least when it comes to the handling of Ottawa -- and doesn't let the ball slip away once again.


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