|The Ottawa Rough Riders will remain a thing of the past. (Phill Snel/REUTERS)
Ottawa’s new CFL team is going to have a brand new nickname.
Jeff Hunt, who is part of the ownership group set to bring pro football back to the nation’s capital for the 2013 season, said Wednesday it’s “extremely unlikely” the familiar Rough Riders handle will be used, since the Saskatchewan Roughriders retained the right to veto the name as a condition to their approving the expansion franchise.
Hunt also stated it’s safe to assume the team won’t be called the Renegades, which the Ottawa team was known as in its rebirth, from 2002-2005.
The Ottawa Rough Riders, formed in 1876, were folded in 1996.
“The Saskatchewan Roughriders would only support (Ottawa’s return to the league) if they retained veto rights for use of the name, and it seems unlikely they’re going to relinquish their veto,” said Hunt. “They believe that, since they’ve had exclusive use of the name for some 15 years, they’ve earned the right to be the only team in the CFL to utilize the name.”
Hunt is not at all disappointed in Saskatchewan’s stance.
“We have results of some polling, which will be released shortly, that show while the Rough Riders name certainly has and will continue to have history and tradition, a fresh start is appropriate,” said Hunt. “I’ve always believed that the name was never a factor in the success or failure of the team, and although it makes for interesting debate, we would not succeed or fail because of the name we pick.
“I also know that any name we pick will not be met with universal approval, but I hope that in time people will give us their support regardless.
“In my opinion,” added Hunt, “the most important part of the name is Ottawa.”
Hunt is in favour of a retro game to be played every season, in which his team would be suited up as and be called the Rough Riders. He says that while the idea has not yet passed, Saskatchewan has initially responded positively.
As far as coming up with a full-time nickname is concerned, Hunt said that a definite process has not been formalized. Whatever is decided, Hunt said that fans will have “extensive” input.
“It will certainly be our goal to have a name that reflects Ottawa’s history,” said Hunt.