June 21, 2011
Ottawa CFL group puts GM search on holdTeam likely won't take field until 2014
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Ottawa football fans will have to wait to see the face of the new CFL franchise.
With the Lansdowne Live and Frank Clair Stadium project delayed by legal battles, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group has put its search for a GM on hold until the redevelopment is official.
The team was supposed to hit the field in 2013, but OSEG partner Jeff Hunt admitted Monday that will likely be pushed back to 2014 because the first shovel isn’t due to hit the ground at Lansdowne until early next year.
However, Hunt and business partners Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and Bill Shenkman have spoken with potential GM candidates.
“If we’re going to hire a general manager, that person is going to want to know that we’re going to play and we haven’t got that absolute certainty. We hope to have that soon,” said Hunt. “In the last reincarnation (of the CFL in Ottawa with the Renegades in 2002), I think they had nine months (to prepare) with a weaker expansion draft.
“We have the prospect of two years, of building a team and scouting. That will help us building a negotiation list. We’re going to have the time, which means we should be in a much better position when we start.”
As Ottawa 67’s owner, Hunt has set a familiar standard for what he wants in a CFL GM.
“My standard is Brian Kilrea. I want the Brian Kilrea of CFL football because that’s the standard that I’m used to having with the Ottawa 67’s. Brian Kilreas aren’t on every corner, unfortunately. That’s going to be our challenge: Find someone who is to football what Brian Kilrea is to hockey.”
That hasn’t stopped the phone from ringing.
“Ever since we’ve gone public with the CFL franchise, there’s been interest,” said Hunt. “In some cases, they might have been great candidates, but we just weren’t in a position to do anything final.
“I’ve had word from people who are even in senior positions in the NFL and I know that there’s GMs in the CFL that are watching our situation closely.
“Let’s face it, the best candidates are currently employed. The good thing about pro sports is employment is never assured long-term. We’re confident that in the next year, some very, very high-profile and very seasoned CFL veterans will come to our door.”
Hunt said he’s disappointed the club won’t likely be able to start in 2013.
“I’ve been in this now for over three years,” he said. “While it’s been interesting and exciting, we want to get going.
“More important to me is just getting it right. If it means 2014 is what is needed to get it going, so be it. With this legal challenge over our head, we felt it’s not good to begin anything until we have absolute certainty.”