Rough Ride for CFL hopes

Former Ottawa Renegades owner Bernie Glieberman (left) and son Lonie are seen during their latest...

Former Ottawa Renegades owner Bernie Glieberman (left) and son Lonie are seen during their latest foray in the CFL in 2005. (Ottawa Sun File/Sean Kilpatrick)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

From three, to two, to one .... now none?

The dwindling list of known suitors for a CFL team in Ottawa appears to be blank with talk that a Bill Palmer-led group of American investors has withdrawn its interest. According to those in the know, Palmer has balked at the league's franchise fee, which is believed to be $5 million.

"It looks like it has died an unceremonious death," an insider said yesterday of Palmer's bid. "It is dead .... there is nothing ongoing."

Palmer, a former CFLer and father of QB Jesse Palmer, did not return a call by the Sun.

The past few months have not been kind to those hoping for the resurrection of the Renegades, in some form or another.

A bid by Golden Gate Capital Corp. was pulled back in October when main money man Ernest Anderson was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Many viewed it as the most attractive option, too, as 67's owner Jeff Hunt had signed on to run the team in a partnership with the financial services company.

A few weeks later, the football franchise ownership desires of beverage entrepreneur Frank D'Angelo were essentially snubbed by the CFL, as the league stated it preferred to focus on negotiating with the Palmer group at that time. However, the door was not completely closed on D'Angelo either, and yesterday the colorful showman said he'd be interested in re-entering the picture -- if he was asked by the league.

"They didn't tell us to go jump in the lake," said

D'Angelo would bring pharmaceutical billionaire Barry Sherman into a football venture with him as a partner.

"But if girl doesn't want to date you, why bug her? I've got a big ego," he said. "If they call us, we will be more than happy to restart talks with the CFL," D'Angelo added. "And with the same energy and passion we started with."

It's believed that the league -- which was originally looking for a $3.5-million franchise fee -- has increased that because it is closing in an a new, lucrative TV deal.

Prospective buyers can argue that it's been decades (if ever) since a CFL team in Ottawa made a profit. They can legitimately question why they should pay millions to potentially lose millions.

D'Angelo makes no secret of his motives. As the president and CEO of Steelback Brewery, he sees an opportunity to "market his brand."

Molson had the same mindset in owning the Montreal Canadiens for years.

"I said it before and I'll say it now, there are not too many businessmen willing to lose money for five years ... but for us it makes sense," reasoned D'Angelo, who would be looking to secure Steelback pouring rights at Frank Clair Stadium -- as well as the city's assistance in some much-needed "cosmetic surgery" for the structure.

"The focal point would be to put together an incredible, phenomenal, stupendous, kick-ass football team," said D'Angelo. "If we didn't, it would affect our brand."

D'Angelo admits he has had "informal" discussions with Hunt. Is it possible that the groups could unite.

"He's a very bright guy, he has the same goals as we do," D'Angelo said of Hunt. "At the end of the day, the CFL has to be interested in us."


Videos

Photos