Grey-t day for Ottawa

Jeff Hunt is part of a group that will bring the CFL and Grey Cup to Ottawa. (Sun Media/Errol...

Jeff Hunt is part of a group that will bring the CFL and Grey Cup to Ottawa. (Sun Media/Errol McGihon)

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

The 2014 Grey Cup game will be played in Ottawa, Sun Media has learned.

But first, of course, the national's capital has to have a team in the CFL.

"When we got our conditional franchise, we were awarded a Grey Cup," confirmed Jeff Hunt, frontman of the Ottawa group that has until March to complete its mission of bringing pro football back to Lansdowne Park. "I think with everything that happened around then, the Grey Cup component might have been overlooked.

"That was a key element when we were in negotiations with the CFL. We thought having the ability to host a Grey Cup was an important piece of the puzzle."

No question about that. The week-long "great Canadian party" not only provides an economic spinoff for the hosting city, but the event is also a substantial money maker for the host team.

"The Grey Cup, because of the way it's done by the CFL, is extremely important for a team's financial success," said Hunt. "I know it can really have a significant impact on your bottom line the year you host it.

"It's a big deal financially, certainly, and that seems to be the thing a lot of people really focus on. I think it's just a big deal for community pride and for putting a community in the national spotlight, like hosting a Brier or things of that nature.

"It's the pre-eminent annual sporting event in Canada. To me, that's the event to be a part of."

Hunt will be going to Sunday's Grey Cup in Montreal with two of his three partners, John Ruddy and Roger Greenberg. The third partner, William Shenkman, will not be able to attend.

"This will be my 10th or 11th Grey Cup, but the first time I've been at a Grey Cup involved to this extent with the CFL," said Hunt. "We think it's important for us to be there."

On Saturday, the group will meet with the CFL's board of governors to provide an update on its bid to reach an agreement with the city for the necessary redevelopment of Lansdowne Park.

In short?

"Right now we're working with city staff to establish the fundamentals of our relationship," said Hunt, the owner of the Ottawa 67's. "I think early in the New Year they're going to take the pillars of our relationship to city council, hopefully for approval.

"I think we feel things are moving along as well as we would have hoped. We knew this was going to be a significant process, and we're in the middle of it."

Along with work, the group will try to find time for some play. That is what the Grey Cup is about, after all. Hunt said that upon being awarded the 2014 game, he came to the "sobering realization that when we host it, I'll be the ripe old age of 50."

Not a bad way to celebrate hitting the half-century mark, by any means.

'GREAT EVENTS'

"The Grey Cups I've been a part of in Ottawa --1988 and 2005 -- they were great events that were extremely well supported," said Hunt, who is anxious to throw the bash. "Just like when you own a junior team you want to host the Memorial Cup ... Unfortunately there are 60 teams that want to host the Memorial Cup every year. The time between turns can be lengthy.

"The Grey Cup is something you hope can happen in your community once a decade. The idea of being a part of a Grey Cup in 2014 is very exciting. And I think it's the kind of thing that makes this whole project really seem worthwhile."

And give a guy a thirst for more. Not long after the Renegades hosted the Grey Cup, their owners disbanded, leaving Ottawa without a team.

"I'm sure that was not their plan," said Hunt. "Certainly that is not our plan.

"Our plan is to host many Grey Cups, and hopefully even hoist a few."


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