May 1, 2012
Ottawa's CFL return in 2014 still intact: Hunt
By TIM BAINES, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - It's a touchdown for Jeff Hunt and his partners with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.
But it's not a Grey Cup ... yet.
OSEG's dream of putting a CFL team back in Ottawa in 2014 got a huge jump-start Monday when a Friends of Lansdowne appeal on the park's redevelopment was unanimously shot down by a three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal.
"It's obviously a great sense of relief," said Hunt, who also owns the Ottawa 67's. "We were very confident that the decision of the earlier court would be upheld. This whole process is like a season. You have some painful losses and you have your victories and when you have your victories, you celebrate them. We're still not celebrating a Grey Cup yet, but it's another step closer."
The Friends of Lansdowne have been haunting OSEG for nearly two years.
"This has been the most frustrating period for me, personally," said Hunt. "This has been a five-year epic journey. Certainly, we've had lots of adversity. This stage now, where everything is so ready to go, to have the uncertainty of a matter before the court, is very frustrating. We kind of knew going in there would be opposition. It's nice to get that decision in today. It's a big relief for our whole group.
"Our plan is still 2014, unless something else were to occur, we should be good to go. The CFL has been terrific throughout this entire process. They've been great partners."
One thing is certain, the team will not be called the Rough Riders. The Saskatchewan Roughriders, as a condition of their yes vote to add Ottawa, won't allow it. So what will the Ottawa team be called?
"Once we have absolute certainty as to a start date and we're in the ground, which is what I believe is symbolically the certainty we need, we'll begin to do a lot of things, including engage the community in a name-the-team program."
What does Hunt think of the Friends of Lansdowne?
"It's disappointing that people would be so disruptive in what we all think is such a positive thing for the city," said Hunt. "I guess it's part of being in a democracy. Hopefully, they'll take two decisive decisions and we can start to move forward without any more legal issues.