Ottawa negotiations reach 'next phase'

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

It's now third down in negotiations to bring the CFL back to Ottawa.

"(Negotiations) have entered the next phase," CFL commissioner Tom Wright said yesterday. "I'm not going to comment on who or how many (groups), but we are continuing down that road and we're going to do what's right for the fans of the city.

"I remain confident something will be in place for the 2008 season, but only with the right (ownership) group and under the right circumstances.

"The fans of Ottawa have been through enough. You only get so many mulligans."

It's believed the CFL is now down to negotiating terms with the group of American investors fronted by former CFLer Bill Palmer after the league told beverage entrepreneur Frank D'Angelo, thanks, but no thanks.

That came on the heels of the withdrawal of the group that was perceived as the frontrunner, the Golden Gate Capital bid which had recruited Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt to be its man on the ground here.

They withdrew after backer Ernest Anderson was stricken with cancer.

Wright said any ownership in Ottawa would have to meet the "new standard for excellence" ownership in the other CFL cities has set and Ottawa fans would be "pleased with the process. It's continuing."

Wright's term as commissioner is up Dec. 31 and there has been speculation Wright wanted to announce Ottawa's return before he leaves office, perhaps as early as the Grey Cup a week from Sunday.

But he dismissed that speculation yesterday.

"I think if I was going to be commissioner for another 10 years or if I had left 10 months ago, it wouldn't change the way I would approach it," he said. "We need to have 10 teams in the CFL and before we have 10, we have to have nine.

"Hockey might be Canada's sport, but the CFL is Canada's league. We need to be in Ottawa. The fans deserve it. We should be there."


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