Jeff Hunt knows new Ottawa CFL team can't ignore key markets

Ottawa team owner Jeff Hunt plans on marketing his CFL team to a wider market outside the city....

Ottawa team owner Jeff Hunt plans on marketing his CFL team to a wider market outside the city. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

TIM BAINES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:01 PM ET

TORONTO - Parlez-vous football?

Ottawa’s CFL team will get it right this time. They don’t plan on putting on blinders when it comes to the francophone market ... and they’re certainly not stupid enough to ignore football fans in the Valley.

“There are 250,000-300,000 people living in (the Gatineau market) and they’re as close to Lansdowne as people in Kanata are,” said Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group’s Jeff Hunt. “It would be a tremendous mistake not to give that market your full attention and priority. It’s right in our wheelhouse. Hopefully, we’ll win fans over.

“The Valley is an absolute no-brainer, that is part of our marketing with the 67’s. We played an exhibition game in Smiths Falls and we played one in Rockland. If you take the Valley and Gatineau into account, it’s a big market. To not include them in any football marketing would be a big mistake.”

No question, there is plenty of football interest across the pond. But many of the fans are attached to the Montreal Alouettes. Not a problem, says Hunt.

“If they want to come and cheer for the Alouettes, that’s great,” said Hunt. “You get into that situation with the Senators when they face the Leafs or the Canadiens.

“People may wish the whole crowd is cheering for the hometown team, but what people really remember is the building is packed and it’s a great atmosphere.

“If we’re able to convert some of those people cheering for the Alouettes, all the better. The Alouettes only come to town once, we’re in town nine times a year. So certainly it would be in our best interests if the Alouette fans in Gatineau would find a way to adopt Ottawa as their favourite team and come to almost all the games.”

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