By Jessica Book
Fifty dollars is not a big gamble to bring professional football back to Ottawa.
That’s what Barry Nicol says about the money he paid to join the Ottawa Football Union, the organization behind the movement to return the CFL to Ottawa.
“The benefits far outweigh the negatives,” says Nicol, 35, about his investment.
Nicol paid $200 for his OFU membership, but if the campaign to resurrect the Ottawa Rough Riders does not succeed, he will get $150 back.
Nicol says he is not expecting to get any of his money back because he’s convinced the Revive the Pride movement will accomplish its goal.
“I don’t think I’m going to get (the money) back because I think it’s going to succeed, and the people I’ve met who are involved in this think so, too,” the Bell Canada employee says.
Nicol says he considers the membership a good investment and people who think otherwise would not get involved or pay the money.
If the OFU’s efforts end up being in vain, Micky Green says people are guaranteed to get their $150 back. The head of the OFU explains that when the money from people’s memberships is paid, $150 of it goes directly into a trust account that neither Green nor anyone else has access to.
“When the monies come in,($150) goes into a trust account and legally we can’t touch it,” Green says. “We don’t ever see that money; it goes directly into trust.”
Green stresses that everyone involved with the OFU is a volunteer, no one is paid for their work.
The $50 people pay goes towards the OFU’s material expenses, like the $13,000 it cost for paper and printing to send letters promoting memberships to season ticket holders of the last Rough Riders team.
“It’s written into the bylaws of the corporation that no one can benefit financially from this and if they did, they’re headed for jail,” says Green.
If a CFL team returns to Ottawa, the people who have purchased the $200 memberships in the OFU will have bought a piece of the team and will be members of a community-owned CFL team.
“They’re set up to be a purchase of the new football team,” Green says about the memberships. “They’re not shares, but they’re very similar. They provide us with a way of ensuring community ownership.”
As in a corporation, members of the OFU will have the opportunity to run for the organization’s board of directors and have a say in the team’s management.
Green says although he’s the head of the movement right now, he has no interest in managing the team himself if one were to return. He adds his sole motivation is to bring football back to Ottawa.
“The truth is, I never thought I’d be leading an attempt to revive football in Ottawa,” says Green.
“But I want to save Lansdowne (Park) and I want my team back.”
Former Ottawa mayor Jim Durrell feels the same way.
While Green looks for individual members, Durrell has been actively canvassing corporate sponsorships, mainly because he’s steadfastly against the demolition of Frank Clair stadium.
“I just think it’s poorly thought out,” says Durrell. “Not only will you not have a football team, you’ll never have any significant event in this city again.”
Ottawa city council continues to negotiate the re-development of Lansdowne Park with Canderel Development.
Mayor Jim Watson says the deal with Canderel will be announced in December.