Monday, March 09, 2009

Football squared in Ottawa.

Initially.

Ottawa MLS bid COO Cyril Leeder slipped the word into the conversation subtly, but it was there. “That would seem unlikely going into an initial proposal...” he said when asked if a future Ottawa MLS team could share a stadium with a future CFL team.

He preformed his understated magic in a wide ranging interview on It’s Called Football last Saturday. Have a listen in its full here (the interview starts at the 17 minute mark – the audio is low off the top, but it gets fixed).

The thing about “initially” is that it isn’t “never.” Leeder didn’t say that there would never be a shared stadium in Ottawa.

This battle isn’t so much about a stadium, or sport even. At its root it’s about power and money. Eugene Melnyk wants to control the stadium in Ottawa and he’s enlisted MLS to help him do it. The league has shown time and time again that it will let teams share stadiums if the ownership is strong. Don Garber likes Melnyk (one source told me that the two hit it off like long lost fraternity brothers) and wants him in the league. The Ottawa bid has always been about 2013. Garber is making enough noise about requiring a soccer specific stadium to help his new buddy win the battle locally, but if it doesn’t work out and the two groups are forced to work together to build a football squared field of dreams...MLS will still be interested in 2013.

Ottawa deserves both teams. And it’s not likely to build both stadiums. If I were in Ottawa I’d be a little leery of going the MLS route when I knew that the CFL was coming regardless. But, without getting into a peeing contest about which league is more viable moving forward, there is little doubt that soccer is a growing sport that often attracts a different audience than Canadian football. In an ideal world fans of both sports could be served.

So why not make it happen? If you build it....

12 comments:

GoGades said...

Well, how *magnanimous* of them ...

Bottom line, from a City perspective, do we want to build more infrastructure on the far west edge of the city ? I think the recent Ekos poll was quite clear - 79% of the population think it's a stupid idea.

Anonymous said...

This is the same population which elected Larry O'Brien, how'd that work out?

GoGades said...

Hey 'anonymous',

your last drive to SBP at rush hour, how'd that work out ?

Anonymous said...

Rebuilding Lansdowne is the way to go. Team Hunt should announce that they are exploring the possibility of putting a USL franchise in there as well. Probably a better fit than MLS for now and would boost support for Team Hunt's vision.

Anonymous said...

I think if they went and got a usl team that would help alot.

Anonymous said...

The USL route would be excellent, a win-win-win. Football fans would have the Rough Riders back; soccer fans would have a team in a downtown setting with a great rival only two hours away; and Hunt & Co. could stick it to the Barbadian.

manotick said...

Being an Ottawa tax player and sports fan (all sports) the choice is clear. Choose between: (a) a sport that has no track record in Ottawa (MLS soccer) or (b) a sport that has failed twice in the past decade (CFL football).

Not a pretty sight.

And include a large number of taxpayers who don't want a stadium at all but would rather use Lansdowne Park for gardens so they can walk their dogs.

If you go by the phone calls over the past few months to our local sports radio station, The Team 1200, it isn't even close. The sports fraternity overwhelmingly wants football at Lansdowne Park.

Anonymous said...

My probleam with the team 1200 is it seems to be to pro football.I don't think you can go by the calls on that station and say yes most want football.There have been surverys done and all most all want landsdown but no to say overwhelmingly want football is not correct.

GoGades said...

To those who say Team Hunt should try to get a USL team ...

I say the hell with that.

Why should they split their efforts and resources towards something that frankly, if not for Melnyk's scheme, we wouldn't even be talking about ?

I'd take this sudden soccer 'frenzy' a lot more seriously if the Fury managed to get more than 300 fans (if that) to their games.

To be clear, I'm not at all anti-soccer but I'm pretty pissed at the way Melnyk & Co. have gone about it. They can stick a 'pointy ball' where the sun don't shine.

Anonymous said...

To Gogades
To be fair 300 for a pdl team is not that bad.Could it better yes but teams as rule do not draw huge crowds.There a re a few that do draw real could crowds.Out of the 60 plus teams i would guess maybe 20 teams get great support.Its aslo important to keep in mind its not a pro league its not semi-pro is a development league.As for saying we would not be talking about this if it was not for melynk.Well thats not true there has been rumors the fury would like to move up in the next 5 years.

manotick said...

While I agree that Team 1200 is not a perfect sample, it is the only sports phone in station that we have. In addition, I think we can agree that Ottawa is first and foremost a hockey town and it wants big league sports. I cannot see the city lining up to buy season tickets for players that no one has ever heard of and for a sport that gets very little coverage locally.

Toronto has the benefit of a very large immigrant population covering the spectrum from Europe and Asia and hence a built-in demand for soccer. Ottawa does not have that have same demographics.

We really are a one horse town when it comes to sports.

Anonymous said...

Manotick
The thing about toronto is before they got the major league soccer team there was very little demand for soccer.Toronto was home toa usl division one team and had poor support real bad for the most part.Do i think that can happen in ottawa its possible but not likely.Could ottawa support a usl division team yes i really think they could.One thing you have to keep in mind with toronto is this.Sure the leafs/raptors/toronto fc get great support.But then the marlies/ohl/canadian soccer league teams get poor support.I know some go on toronto is a great sports city.While in fact its really not.