Redblacks prepare for sold-out home opener

OTTAWA — Jeff Hunt feels like a nervous parent getting ready to host a wedding. The man in charge of the expansion Ottawa Redblacks is anxiously awaiting the team’s home opener Friday at the refurbished Lansdowne Park.

OTTAWA — Jeff Hunt feels like a nervous parent getting ready to host a wedding.

The man in charge of the expansion Ottawa Redblacks is anxiously awaiting the team’s home opener Friday at the refurbished Lansdowne Park.

“Friday is going to be pretty special,” said Hunt, the president of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.

The game is sold out yet ticket requests keep coming in as fans want to celebrate the league’s return to Ottawa after a nine-year absence.

“I had a buddy ask me if I could get him six tickets,” said linebacker Jason Pottinger. “I was like ‘Are you crazy?”’

Hunt has had hundreds of requests this week alone and hates to say no, but at the same time, he feels pretty good knowing Friday’s game is such a hot ticket. Even Ottawa mayor Jim Watson is getting hit up for tickets.

“I have a lot of new friends these days,” said Watson. “Unfortunately I have to be the bearer of bad news, but I will be there with my niece.”

For local players Justin Phillips and Kevin Scott, Friday’s game holds a bit more significance. Scott says he has wonderful memories of watching football at Lansdowne Park with his parents and expects to be a little emptional on Friday.

“I’ll probably get here early and sit in the north side stands before anyone else and just enjoy the moment,” said Scott, a long snapper. “It’s been great to see everyone so excited about not only this game, but football being back.

“You can definitely feel the buzz around town. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Phillips, who grew up in a suburb of Ottawa, says he’s never been so popular.

“Everyone is asking me if there’s any extra tickets,” said Phillips. “It’s definitely the hottest ticket in town right now, which is great.”

Hunt and his partners were hopeful fans would be supportive and says it’s gratifying to see the reaction.

“At one time we lived in a negative state and now people are just so positive,” said Hunt. “We always felt this was the right thing, but seeing the level of excitement has exceeded our expectations.”

Hunt and his partners expect Friday to be an emotional day, not only for the ownership group, but also for fans and the numerous alumni who will be on hand for the game.

“People are going to be taking part in a historic day for the city. This is more than just about football, it’s almost redefining the image of what was Lansdowne Park for so long,” he said. Jock Climie, an Ottawa native and former member of the Ottawa Rough Riders, said he’s excited to witness the return of football in Ottawa.

As part of TSN’s CFL broadcast crew, Climie said it was difficult to talk about the CFL without there being a team in the nation’s capital.

“As a kid I fell in love with football watching the Rough Riders,” said Climie. “It’s so great to see such positive feeling about the ownership group and the team. I don’t think people always realize the importance of local ownership.”

Ottawa has been without pro football since the CFL suspended the Renegades in 2006. That franchise was born in 2002, six years after the Rough Riders folded.

Watson will be starting the party early with a city-sponsored pep rally at city hall Thursday. Watson said there was a time when Lansdowne Park was a “political football” at city hall, but now feels “we’ve landed as close as possible to a unanimous decision on use of the site.”

“The reaction has been very positive, not only to the stadium, but the whole concept,” said Watson. “The team has been doing so much right with involvement in the community.”

Work at TD Place is ongoing and finishing touches will likely be taking place right up to the end.

“We’re going to put our best foot forward,” said Hunt. “This past year has been dominated by so many first’s and milestones and they all culminate Friday.”

Just Posted

Rural transit service rolled out

2A South Regional Transit will link Innisfail and Penhold with Red Deer

Some Red Deer waste collection schedules change due to holiday season

Tuesday collections will be moved for two weeks

Red Deer ‘champion’ helps hospital by sharing ongoing petition

It’s been about three years since many physicians at Red Deer Regional… Continue reading

Red Deer Airport’s prospects are looking up for 2019

Ultra-low-cost passenger service is on the horizon

Funding down for Red Deer Christmas charities

Food hampers and toys for children going out to those in need

Alberta’s Sundial starts shipping to AGLC this week

Sundial’s Rocky View facility has received the green light from Health Canada… Continue reading

Penny Marshall dead at 75, best known as TV’s Laverne and director of ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’

Bronx-born Penny Marshall, who found ’70s sitcom success on “Laverne and Shirley”… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Most Read