CFL Hunt's off for now

Jeff Hunt's Ottawa CFL bid was withdrawn yesterday after his financial supporter was diagnosed with...

Jeff Hunt's Ottawa CFL bid was withdrawn yesterday after his financial supporter was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. (Ottawa Sun File/Sean Kilpatrick)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Ottawa's long road back to the CFL has hit another unexpected bump in the road.

The front-running bidder from Golden Gate Capital, facing a battle with cancer, took himself out of the race yesterday, leaving partner Jeff Hunt on the sidelines.

Ernest Anderson, the man behind Golden Gate and the bid, withdrew after being diagnosed with intestinal cancer.

Now it remains to be seen if the two remaining bids -- one fronted by former CFLer Bill Palmer and the other led by beverage entrepeneur Frank D'Angelo -- will try to recruit Hunt, whose credibility as Ottawa 67's owner made Golden Gate the bidder to beat.

It would seem unlikely given Hunt would pretty much be replacing either D'Angelo or Palmer, who have each positioned themselves to run the franchise should they be the successful bidders.

That was what Hunt had agreed to do for the Golden Gate bid, marrying the CFL operation with the hugely successful 67's organization.

But Hunt said he would be more than willing to talk about joining forces if contacted.

"Absolutely," said Hunt. "I'd be crazy not to. I don't want to be presumptuous to suggest that's going to happen, but if they did call, I'd be willing to talk. I'm keen to do this."

The best-case scenario for Hunt would be the emergence of another group of investors looking for a partner who has the infrastructure in place to run a franchise as well as having credibility in this marketplace.

The Golden Gate bid was judged the front runner because of Hunt's involvement, giving it a local face and benefitting from the goodwill Hunt has built up during his tenure as 67's owner.

D'Angelo had the politically correct response when interviewed on the Team 1200 yesterday afternoon.

'STANDUP GUY'

"I don't know him personally, but I've heard nothing but great things about him," said D'Angelo, who is partnered up with pharmaceutical heavyweight Barry Sherman (181st on the Forbes list of the world's richest people). "(Hunt's) a standup guy, but I don't think it would be fair to comment one way or the other."

Palmer did not return a telephone call.

Hunt was foremost concerned yesterday about Anderson's situation and saddened about its impact on the CFL bid.

"I had grave worries about Ernest personally and the bid going forward," said Hunt. "Thursday night the call came while I was at a buddy's wedding in Hamilton. (The CFL bid) is not something he could be distracted with right now. He's got bigger worries."

"It's a tough one. I had allowed myself and my staff to get very excited about what could have been.

"Things have never been better in the CFL. It's stable now.

"Naturally, I'd still love to look at any opportunity."


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