'Another win' for OSEG

Jeff Hunt and the rest of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group should be able for concentrate...

Jeff Hunt and the rest of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group should be able for concentrate on bringing the CFL back to Ottawa, following a judge's ruling on Thursday. (DARREN BROWN/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

OTTAWA - Now, finally, you should be safe to start thinking football.

At long last, it would appear the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group can go forward with its plan to redevelop Lansdowne Park and bring another CFL team — as well as a North American Soccer League expansion franchise — to the nation’s capital.

Two thousand and fourteen, here we come.

Surely, this was the last of the roadblocks. The end of the legal challenges. The noise from those who want only to claim a little fame, for surely they didn’t believe they were acting in the best interests of their city.

If the “Friends of Lansdowne” now start squawking about putting together an appeal of the decision rendered by the Honourable Regional Senior Justice Hackland, well, they will be making a big mistake.

For one thing, they have to have grounds for an appeal. They have to point out how the judge erred in his ruling or made a misinformed call. And he didn’t.

Secondly, an appeal would be costly to this small group. As we understand it, the city and OSEG could go after the “Friends” for court costs from the challenge, but will not. If they can somehow figure out how to launch an appeal, the “Friends” would not only have to put up bonds that it’s believed could cost them $200,000-$300,000, but they would not be as fortunate to dodge court costs when they lost the second time.

No, the gloves would be off. The “Friends” would get pounded, financially. They would go from being a nuisance to a ridiculous and poor nuisance.

Any lawyer thinking about taking their case on a pro bono basis should ultimately be smart enough to see this as a no-win for the “Friends,” just as the first cousins of the “Friends” — the Lansdowne Conservancy — would have to come up with a different strategy to defeat the city’s decision to let OSEG turn the coveted Bank St. grounds into the jewel by the canal they are destined to become.

There is no better argument against the city and the OSEG than the one put up by the “Friends” — and that was a weak one that had no prayer.

Two thousand and fourteen, here we come.

OSEG partner Jeff Hunt was on his way back from a California vacation with his kids when the judge’s decision came down Thursday. In the Charlotte airport to catch a connecting flight, Hunt turned on his computer to find many e-mails of congratulations.

“It was another high-five moment on the long road,” Hunt told the Sun before boarding the plane to Ottawa. “It’s nice to have it behind us.”

Hunt, Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy, Bill Shenkman and John Pugh might have given up the fight altogether had the ruling gone against them. Who knows? Millions of dollars and hours upon hours of work have been poured into their attempt to convert the current beaten-down building into a world-class sports facility, but at times it has had to feel like they were spinning wheels in the mud. If the process could be slowed further by a challenge with no real substance, then maybe it would have been best for them to get on with their lives.

Fortunately, that was not the case.

The CFL granted OSEG a conditional franchise in 2008, on the premise the group could get a new home built at Lansdowne. Three years later, the red tape has been crumpled up and tossed into the bin it belongs. Three years from now, Ottawa will finally have its CFL team, and a NASL franchise to boot, along with an beautiful sports emporium near the heart of the city.

“We felt very confident in our position, we didn’t feel the charges were warranted,” said Hunt. “But any time a matter goes to court and is decided by one person, you never know how the verdict is going to come out.

“It’s another success, another win on the long road which thankfully has been paved with a lot of wins.”

Thankfully, indeed.

Two thousand and fourteen, here we come.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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