If they build it ...

KENNETH JACKSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

The first step was getting the CFL onside.

That's done.

The next hurdle to jump is developing a "world-class" stadium and sports facility at Lansdowne Park.

But a lot of that depends on city hall, said investor William Shenkman.

At a press conference today, the CFL will give Ottawa an expansion franchise contingent on securing an agreement with city council for a revamped Frank Clair Stadium.

Shenkman said he and his partners Jeff Hunt, owner of the Ottawa 67's, and fellow developers Roger Greenberg and John Ruddy have preliminary drawings for what they'd like to see at city-owned Frank Clair, including massive renovations that would push capacity to over 25,000 and transform "what is a dump into a world-class facility."

The Civic Centre would get upgrades as well. They'd also like to have meeting rooms.

Last year, the city recommended the lower tier of the south-side stands be demolished because of structural concerns.

It could almost all be done in the existing space, said Shenkman, who yesterday told the Sun the CFL stamp of approval is exciting news.

"(Today) is the kickoff and we're very excited. After (today) we have to get going," he said. "We just think if it's done properly that we could make a good go of it ... We want to have some fun and we want to be successful."

Shenkman said the owners presented their preliminary package to the CFL board of governors about a month ago in Palm Beach, Fla., and the support was unanimous.

That includes CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon, who's expected to be at today's announcement.

"Mark is excited," said Shenkman.

THIRD TIME'S A CHARM

Although there is no specific timeline for the franchise to begin operation, it could be as early as 2010.

This would be the CFL's third stint in Ottawa, but league officials are confident the group can succeed where others failed.

Hunt is credited with turning the 67's into one of the top junior hockey operations in Canada and has developed a reputation of being a shrewd sports executive.

His partners have the cash to operate a franchise with a league-mandated $4.05-million salary cap.

Greenberg is chairman and CEO of Minto Developments. Ruddy is president of Trinity Development Group. Shenkman is chairman of Shenkman Corp., another local property development company.

Greenberg declined to comment yesterday and Ruddy didn't return an interview request.


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