Okay, let’s go. We’ve had a CFL team for almost three years now. Let’s move it, already. The league told us, if we build it, they will come. Three years later, jack squat. Imagine if Kevin Costner had waited three years to plow down his cornfield? Field of Dreams would have been a long dull movie. He wouldn’t have met Shoeless Joe Jackson. I’m starting to worry that we won’t ever meet the next Russ Jackson or Tony Gabriel.
It sometimes comes as a surprise to people when I tell them Ottawa currently has a CFL team. No lie. It’s been granted, ready to kick off, once/if we get around to building a stadium. To that end, you’d surely like to see a little more hustle out there. Too much lollygagging. I bet that’s partly why some city councillors, major players in this thing, were cut from the team in October.
We got the team on March 25th, 2008. Now almost 3 years later, it would appear the CFL is trying to nudge the process along. The league announced today the CFL expansion draft would be held at the end of the 2012 season. The hope is that we’ll have our excrement together in time to kick off the 2013 season.
The draft news is all good. We get first pick in next year’s Canadian draft and again in 2013. The expansion draft rules are also favourable, with far more unprotected talent than was made available to the defunct Renegades. Best of all, teams can only protect one quarterback. Getting the best number two quarterback in the CFL is huge. If they choose well, Ottawa won’t have to muddle through with a Dan Crowley type. Watching him gave me hives.
So now you’re chomping at the bit, ready to build, right? Well, here’s your timeline. Of course, the stadium plans were approved in June. At least they voted to "proceed with them", defining and refining.
The plan promised to, among other things, revitalize Frank Clair stadium (what’s left of it), turning it into a 24,000 seat facility (pictured above). South Siders may not like it but they will actually be connected to North Siders in the new facility by way of a concourse. We get really touchy feely in the end zones that, according to current plans, will now be berns of grass for picnic and blanket seating. Why do I think Clive Doucet wrangled that option?
The work will be handled by a company called Cannon Design, the group that built the spectacular Richmond Speed Skating Oval for last year’s Winter Olympics.
5 months later, they approved an integrated site plan. It, too, must meet certain conditions before final approval sometime next year. So it's more refining and defining. Once that’s completed and approved, the sod turning ceremony will be in June of this year, barring some last second refining and defining.
As for the nickname, Hunt said in July it’s extremely unlikely they’ll go with Rough Riders. Although it’s interesting a stadium photo, pictured above, one they handed out in November, featured the name Rough Riders in the end zone. Very interesting.
Failing that, I’ve got it down to two names. The Ottawa Refiners. Or the Ottawa Definers.