It's not a win -- yet.
But it's fair to say the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group will now enter the fourth quarter with a comfortable lead in its attempt to make Lansdowne Live! a reality.
Now, as you all know, comfortable fourth-quarter leads can be squandered. But last night, after city council voted 15-9 to move forward with the OSEG proposal to redevelop Lansdowne, the Dream Team quarterback was positively brimming.
“It’s a great victory for sports fans in Ottawa,” 67’s owner Jeff Hunt — frontman for the local group of developers that includes Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and Bill Shenkman — said of council’s vote. “CFL football, CIS football, pro soccer ... and world-class concerts are a step closer to reality.
“This is a significant decision today. Even the 67’s can breathe a little easier.”
Hunt’s reaction suggests OSEG will have no problem satisfying the five new conditions placed on its bid by the time it goes before council in May.
That means there should be a CFL team playing in Ottawa’s new world-class sports facility at Lansdowne by 2013, with the Grey Cup game played in 2014.
By then, maybe Coun. Clive Doucet’s tears will have dried.
“It is great news,” said Jeff Avery, a former Rough Rider receiver who sits on the CFL alumni association’s board of directors as the Ottawa national representative. “It’s a hurdle that had to be crossed.”
Avery is among those who should be skeptical of another Ottawa revival. He has witnessed first-hand the fumbling of previous franchises, mostly as a broadcaster covering the teams owned by Bruce Firestone, Bernie Glieberman and Horn Chen.
Instead, Avery is optimistic OSEG’s impressive group of local businessmen will prove to be combination that was needed.
“You want a team here, because many of us believe a team should be here,” said Avery. “It’s frustrating, having gone through the series of owners who each held a hammer that was putting the nails in the coffin (of the Ottawa franchise). “I was really looking forward to giving these guys an opportunity. It’s exciting that it has gotten to this step.”
It is indeed. It’s also nice to see that council acted responsibly in giving the proposal a thumbs-up.
Even Doucet might someday come to realize it was the right way to go.
Yup, it’s a great day for sports fans in the nation’s capital.