Mayor Watson seeks pledge from Ottawa Redblacks, 67s owners to field teams an extra 10 years
Ottawa’s mayor is hoping to lock down the CFL’s Redblacks and the OHL’s 67s in the nation’s capital past 2030 as the teams’ owners seek changes to their deal with the city to endure the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa’s sports commissioner Mathieu Fleury sent a letter to the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) on Thursday asking the ownership group to ”guarantee the continuation” of both the Redblacks and the 67s for an additional 10 years beyond the initial eight-year agreement.
The request does not extend to the Ottawa BlackJacks basketball team, the Ottawa Aces rugby club or the Atletico Ottawa soccer team, which play at TD Place in Lansdowne Park but are not owned by OSEG.
The request comes as Ottawa council prepares to consider a report on Dec. 9 that would see the city’s partnership with OSEG to redevelop, maintain and operate the facilities at Lansdowne Park also extended by 10 years. It would also allow the operators to dip into a lifecycle renewal fund for some emergency capital amid a revenue decline exacerbated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Watson and Fleury’s letter positions a promise to field the teams for another decade as an incentive for the city to sign off on the proposed changes.
“We are convinced that OSEG’s continued commitment to the fielding of the exceptional teams under OSEG’s ownership will play a key role as council considers the report at its meeting on December 9,” the letter read.
Speaking to Global News on Thursday morning, Fleury said that, for him, signing off on any substantial changes to the city’s deal with OSEG would be conditional on keeping sports running at Lansdowne Park.