Ottawa RedBlacks name, logo unveiled at CFL launch event in capital

CFL great and former Ottawa Roughrider, Tony Gabriel, speaks to the audience during the official...

CFL great and former Ottawa Roughrider, Tony Gabriel, speaks to the audience during the official launch and team announcement for the Ottawa RedBlacks CFL team at the Ernst and Young Centre Saturday, June 8, 2013. Darren Brown/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency

TIM BAINES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:01 PM ET

They came, they sawed and they conquered.

RedBlacks. Rouge et Noir.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls ... that is your Ottawa CFL team.

They dared to be different, wanting to carve out their own niche.

To celebrate their new name and sharp-looking sawblade logo, the RedBlacks threw a helluva bash Saturday afternoon at the Ernst and Young Centre — complete with cheerleaders, a marching band, a couple of hundred minor football players and plenty of Rough Riders and Renegades alumni.

Throw in a couple of thousand cheering fans, starving for that wonderful brand of Canadian football to be once again be played at Lansdowne Park, well, it was enough to give you goosebumps.

There were a couple of boos when RedBlacks president Jeff Hunt and GM Marcel Desjardins announced the name, but, for the most part, cheers rang through the room.

“I was wondering what kind of reaction we would get when we actually said RedBlacks," said Hunt. I heard a big cheer. That's a good start ... with a full house today and lots of enthusiasm."

Standing on its own — creating its own identity, while giving a big shoutout to Ottawa history, was important for the RedBlacks.

"Every sports team in Ottawa has always had the red and black colouring," said Hunt. "I like the fact that it's a unique word, a made-up word. We heard a lot of me-too ideas. We wanted something distinctive we could own.

“We knew no matter what name we picked we would have a challenge. You're going to have some people that will embrace it right away, some people that are indifferent and others that aren't going to like it. That would be true with any name we picked. Every day I hear from people that say, 'I didn't like it at first, but it's grown on me.' Hopefully that will be the way the market goes.

“By the time we kick off in 2014, the name will not be the main topic of conversation. I always make the analogy, we start with an empty piggybank. Hopefully every day between now and our opening in 2014, we make deposits into the piggybank. Building a brand takes a long time.”

Russ Jackson and Tony Gabriel were the headliners from an illustrious alumni group.

“I go to a lot of CFL luncheons and I really get discouraged when I look and see eight CFL flags up there and there's no Ottawa flag,” said legendary QB Jackson. “It will be back next year. There's more than 100 years of history for Ottawa football in a vault. It's coming back. I'm going to be at the first game.

“I expected this. I expected there would be a great turnout. The fans were ready for this. They're vociferous, they're loud. They want to support a football team in Ottawa. I compare it to the civic dinner we had after the 1960 Grey Cup win when we came home from Vancouver. It was the end of a football season, but that excitement and enthusiasm where there (Saturday). It was honest, it wasn't make believe. They didn't have to put up signs to make them cheer.”

RedBlacks merchandise was on sale and was flying off the shelves.

The team hopes to have its jersey finished within a couple of months — home and away, probably a third jersey.

tim.baines@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @TimCBaines


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