Heading into the Victoria Day weekend, Jeff Hunt (President of Sports, Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group and one of five partners with OSEG), Marcel Desjardins (GM) and Rick Campbell (Head Coach), made themselves available for questioning ahead of the 2015 CFL season. Here are the hard-hitting facts that came from that call:
The REDBLACKS are the envy of the CFL due their success at reaching the elusive 18-24 year old demographic.
- 17,000 season tickets in year 1.
- Typical renewal is 50% after year 1 in pro sports, Ottawa has already hit 80% renewal (~15,500).
- Every single season ticket holder that has not renewed has been/will be contacted by Jeff Hunt personally (~225 accounts).
- Early reports indicate that no fans had issues with the team or the venue.
- Many of the fans have opted to move from full season ticket purchases have still purchased multi-game packages.
How has perception changed from the first season to now?
- Jeff Hunt: “My biggest fear for the first game was not dealing with a win or loss, but with everyone coming and going with ease. This year we are going to be launching TD place at Lansdown the way it was originally intended. It’s no longer a construction zone.”
- Marcel Desjardins: Going into the first season there were limitations (expansion draft, free agency, etc.). “Coming out of a first season we were able to identify key deficiencies (LT, Receivers, etc.) and addressed them via free agency and the 2015 draft.”
- Rick Campbell: “Last year we were able to find a core group of players that can compete. Now we’ve added some more weapons, so that when it comes to games like last year (10-8 loss for example) we can put some more points on the board.”
What were the expectations for last year, and how will this season pan out?
- Marcel felt that Ottawa could be competitive week in and week-out last season (and still thought that they were despite a losing record).
- Making the playoffs is the expectation for 2015.
Marcel Desjardins when asked about trading draft picks: “We want to expedite winning but not at the expense of our future.”
Offensive line in 2015
- Jon Gott will continue to play centre.
- Alex Mateas will line up behind Gott initially.
- J’Michael Deane will play both guard and tackle.
- SirVincent Rogers was a big key signing to secure the line.
Defense was very solid last year, without a lot of experience. They’ll be even better this season.
- Damaso Munoz and Malik Jackson will add strength to the squad this season.
- There will be a fierce competition at the linebacker position.