Three's a crowd? Maybe not

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

One out, another in?

The speculation yesterday among some CFL sources was that another Canadian-based investment group is interested in bidding for a franchise for Ottawa.

"There apparently is another group that inquired if it was too late for them to throw their hat in the ring," one CFL insider said.

Apparently the answer was, nope, this is the CFL, it's never too late.

Maybe, just maybe, that could change things for 67's owner Jeff Hunt. He found himself on the sidelines Tuesday when his partners in what was regarded as the front-running effort, Golden Gate Capital, withdrew their bid after principal investor Ernest Anderson was diagnosed with intestinal cancer.

That left two groups in the bidding, the Bill Palmer-fronted group of American investors and the Frank D'Angelo partnership backed by pharmaceutical billionaire Barry Sherman.

Yesterday was the day Hunt was to make a presentation to the CFL expansion committee. That didn't happen, obviously.

Palmer and his group made theirs.

It will be the turn of D'Angelo and his group today, though D'Angelo, the singing beverage entrepreneur, won't be on hand. He is in Edmonton performing with his band for troops returning from Afghanistan. He'll participate by conference call.

While he's on the outside looking in now, Hunt is still very interested in being involved in bringing CFL football back to Ottawa.

"Maybe I'll go to the Grey Cup and set up a booth," Hunt joked yesterday. "I'll hang a shingle out front and sell lemonade."

SHIFTS ATTENTION

Hunt is disappointed with the turn of events with Golden Gate and concerned for Anderson. For now, he'll shift his attention back to the 67's, and wait and see what happens.

If there is another group interested in bidding, wouldn't it make sense for the CFL to marry that group with Hunt?

If they have the money, he has the know-how.

"You never know where interest will come from or how things are going to unfold," Hunt said when it was mentioned another group might be coming out of the woodwork.

"I think because the 2008 thing (an Ottawa franchise wouldn't begin play until then) is entrenched, it also buys more time."

D'Angelo told the media Tuesday he would at least like to have a conversation with Hunt to see if there could be a mutually beneficial relationship.

There had been previous contact between the two bids to discuss stadium-naming rights and beer-pouring rights at Frank Clair Stadium.

Palmer made it sound pretty clear he's not interested in involving Hunt in his group's bid. If he did, there probably wouldn't be any need for Bill Palmer, so that is likely a decision made out of self-preservation rather than in the best interests of the bid.

Which raises an interesting question. If the money men in the backgrounds of these two bids are paying attention, shouldn't they be asking questions about Hunt's availability and what he could do for their bids?

BID A FAVOURITE

Hunt's presence -- at least among Ottawa fans (and they are the customers who will decide the success of the team, right?) -- made the Golden Gate bid a favourite. Hunt gave them something the last couple of ownership groups lacked -- a local face and voice with sports marketing credibility here.

Maybe those money guys are asking the question.

They should be, just to make sure they're doing everything possible to have the best bid.

I'd like to hear the answers from Palmer and D'Angelo as to why Hunt wouldn't be a valuable asset to their bids.

Bill Palmer is a former CFLer, but more famous for being Jesse's dad. He hasn't lived here for years and the last time I checked, he has no track record running a successful sports franchise here in Ottawa.

Ditto for D'Angelo.

But, if they aren't interested in bringing Hunt off the sidelines and into their game, maybe there's somebody out there who is.


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