Football: Ravens on track for 2012?

This went out in the Charlatan last week, and Neate pointed it out today: it's an update on the Carleton football situation. If I may quote liberally:

The three sub-committees working on bringing back the varsity squad — the governance, funding and facilities committees — had planned to launch an official funding drive in time for this past weekend’s Vanier Cup.

Unfortunately, the three sub-committees weren’t quite ready as anticipated, said former Ravens offensive guard and president of the Old Crow Society Kevin McKerrow.

“It was a very ambitious goal,” McKerrow said. “We hoped to have all of our ducks in a row by [last] weekend.”

McKerrow said at this point the finance committee is just shy of $4 million in pledge commitments. The committee’s goal is to have secured $5 million in pledge commitments to support the program for the first five years. The long-term goal is to have a self-sustainable varsity program.

Not sure what it means to be "not quite ready" while at the same time having already raised four of the five million dollars, but nevertheless the school appears ready to submit a bid in May, apparently for 2012.

The self-sustainable nature of the program is once again mentioned, and while you'd expect that from any football program trying to model itself after Laval, it wasn't that long ago that athletic director Jennifer Brenning spoke of the need for a much smaller fundraising amount: $750,000. A near-sevenfold increase in 15 months? I must be missing something in the details here.

Besides, the inimitable Deux Fans made a good point last summer: "the success of a team depends more on its recruitment than on their financial success."

But I'm not an expert on Ottawa sports (or Ottawa anything, except where to find the best burgers in Nepean), so I'll leave any informed commentary to those who are. To me, OUA expansion with a credible program seems like a perfectly cromulent idea.
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  1. It was the Carleton board of governors that imposed a condition of raising 5 million dollars before an application to join OUA football was made. The BOG wants to make sure that the team can carry itself for a few years and not come begging for money from Carleton. They have been adamant that the team will not receive money from the university, but must raise it's own funds.

    Some of the money may be needed to expand training facilities at Carleton. It has been surmised that the current weight training rooms can not handle the demands of another 80 varsity athletes, the usual roster size of a football team.

    Then there is the stadium issue. When
    Raven alum John Ruddy first announced that the would put up some big money to get the team started, he also suggested that the Ravens might play at the soon to be rebuilt Lansdowne Park.Ruddy is, of course, one of the partners in the Lansdowne revival.

    For whatever reason the Carleton football committee seems intent on having the team play at the small stadium that currently exists on campus, and not Lansdowne, except for Panda games.

    There are good reasons for that, but a drawback is that the campus stadium will only seat a max of 3000 when the team first takes the field. The vision is that the stadium could be expanded, with private money, over the years. That is likely to take many years to happen. In the meantime the gate receipts from such a small venue will not be a lot for a team that must be self-supporting. The Ravens may be structured along the Laval model, but will not see crowds of 10,000-15,000 and the resulting gate receipts, like Laval, for many years to come. They will still need donations from private donors. Hence, the requirement that the BOG imposed; that there must be a 5 million dollar cushion to ensure that the team does not financially collapse in its first five years of operation.

  2. Who knows, maybe someone fell in love with the notion of playing on campus, since didn't Carleton do that in the old days?

    The field there is nice, but space might be tight. It's also important to know how support will be in the early going. I could see some arrangement where Carleton would play certain games at Lansdowne, like when the opponent is Queen's or Ottawa. When Windsor comes in, play on campus.

  3. Yep---even Ottawa played on campus in the old days. So long ago that I have never run into anybody that can remember attending a game there. You would have to be pretty darn old to have done so.

    Yes Carleton would have the option of playing at Lansdowne , as I am sure that OSEG would be happy to rent it to them when available.They want to keep that stadium busy. For sure,when Carleton hosts the Panda. They may want to go there the first time they host a play off game. For regular season games, even versus regional rivals like Ottawa and Queen's , not so sure?
    It costs money to rent Lansdowne and maintain a campus stadium at the same time.
    Actually, if they can pack that small campus stadium to overflowing often, that could make for good optics. They could go to private sponsors and ask for sponsorships for expanded seating. If we can get 3000 then , help us to expend to 5000. If we get 5000, help us expand to 8000, and so on. The sponsors could get event advertising, naming rights to a section of the seating for their money.

    Interesting times for Ottawa football this decade, with the return of the CFL and the Ravens.

  4. During the final years at Les Prince, Mac used Ivor Wynne for playoffs ... you're right, I'm just spitballing. I don't think it's make-or-break, but if they want to do something special, games on campus might be the way.

    Students' live in a bubble, by and large. Even when I was at Queen's people didn't know there was a game because the stadium is 2 km from main campus!

  5. Good point about students living in a bubble. Unstudents often forget that.

    I think Carleton is right to try using their campus stadium. They have new Field Turf, lights, a scoreboard: bought and paid for. They might as well make maximum use of it. They can plan to expand the seating and other facilities over time.

    Ottawa looks like they are stuck with Lansdowne for another ten years. It is hoped that the novelty of a partially rebuilt stadium and other attractions at Lansdowne will bring students and unstudents alike out to games. I am sure that novelty will not last for long and they will have to do things to keep a decent number of fans coming. A Panda game should guarantee at least one good sized crowd at Lansdowne.

  6. The Raven's re-birth will only find success it they start small and move forward with tentative steps.

    The small stadium-big crowd equation makes Fall Saturday's at Guelph and Queen's a pretty cool place to be. That fan-experience far and away does more for those respective programs than selling a couple more seats in an un-friendly and oversized venue. Case in point: Frank Clair Stadium does the University of Ottawa few favours.

    You can't get today's university kids out of the bubble any more than when you were in school; its too damn comfortable. However, if a program can be a part of that bubble they can engage the undergrad and graduate community beyond their years on campus.

    When you get people coming back for games you have the ability to develop a recipricating force that builds upon itself.

    Super Fun Happy Slide