Saturday, October 11, 2008

CIS Corner: Raising the ghost of Raven roasts

How about that: On Friday, there was some rambling about the Ottawa Gee-Gees' lack of a true football rival, and on Saturday, there's a story in the Ottawa Citizen that Carleton is doing some tire-kicking about reviving Ravens football.

It's all about the money. Did you see what happened to the financial markets yesterday? At Brock University, a feasibility study four years ago concluded it would "take close to $8 million" to get a football program up and running. There is also the question, as Currency of Sport delved into yesterday, whether football is the best thing for a university's reputation.

"Carleton University athletic director Jennifer Brenning says the school is studying the feasibility of reviving the Ravens, with speculation running rampant that it could happen as early as 2010, with an announcement next month in Hamilton.

" 'We are talking to various stakeholders and studying to see if all the conditions are right,' said Brenning. 'There has certainly been a lot of discussion. A lot goes into doing something like this. A lot of things have to be in place. There's sure lots of discussion, but no decision has yet been made by the university. We're still in the investigative process.' "
In Carleton's case, the start-up costs might not be as steep as that figure quoted. There is a stadium on campus that is already used by a junior football team, the Ottawa Sooners (here one thinks of the possibilities for some affiliation between that program and Carleton).

Now, not to claim any prescience, but in January, myself and our most football-savvy commenter, Dennis Prouse, had a back-and-forth in the comments section over Carleton reviving football. Mr. Prouse, who coaches amateur football, said, "The growth in football in the last ten years throughout Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, though, also means that conditions may be right for a revival."

There is a deeper player pool in the Ottawa region. Amateur (or "community") football in the area has grown exponentially since March 5, 1999, when Carleton athletic director Drew Love made the tough call to discontinue the sport (it was "widely unpopular," but in the political and economic climate of Mike Harris' Ontario, it was more than justifiable). In the Ottawa and Seaway valleys, and down in Belleville-Kingston area, there are more young people playing football -- and starting the sport before reaching high school -- than there were 10-15 years ago.

Going from "lots of discussion" to being on the field by 2010 is way too tight a turnaround. Carleton's men's hockey team played exhibition games for two years before becoming a full-fledged OUA team in 2007-08. Still, this subject is not likely to die out. Whatever happens, happens (as someone on the sports beat, obviously my self-interest precludes saying "yay" or "nay"), but it's a heck of a discussion point.

(In case anyone is wondering, an 11-team league could force the OUA to start the season in the last week of August. It would be either that or have teams playing twice a week in order to play a 44-game schedule by the third Saturday in October.)

Carleton football may be on way back (Ottawa Citizen; via Capital Region Football Blog)


Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, back at uOttawa, a proposal was made to start a campaign to raise $15 million in private donations to be used in building a stadium. The proposal was rejected by the university senate this past week.
This does not mean that there will not be a campaign, but the senate did not like the campaign as laid out. the proposal will have to be redrafted and considered again.


Anonymous said...

I like your idea of a Sooner-Carleton affiliation. It seems to be working for junior/CIS football in Regina. And, this type of external relationship isn't unprecedented at Carleton - Ravens hockey has teamed up with the 67s in few areas, like hockey schools (sure, it's not much, but it shows that that type of relationship can work).

There was a strong alumni push to save the team in the late 90s, and I don't the Old Crow Society's enthusiasm for reviving football has waned in the least over the last ten years.

Fingers crossed, I really think Runte and Brenning will make this happen.