Ravens football on track for 2012 return
After 13 long years on the sidelines, the football Ravens should be back on the gridiron for the 2012 Ontario University Athletics season—barring any unexpected setbacks.
“I’m very happy with how things are progressing,” says Kevin McKerrow, BA/87, long-time president of the Old Crow Society, which represents Carleton’s football alumni, and chair of a committee working to revive the Ravens.
He says it’s a result of “commitment and enthusiasm from both the Old Crow ranks and senior representatives of the university.”
In June, the university’s board of governors conditionally approved the creation of the Carleton University Football Club (CUFC), a self-sustaining, non-profit partnership between the university and a community of football supporters.
It’s based on a wildly successful model developed at l’Université Laval (and since adopted by several other Canadian schools) that depends solely on donations, sponsorships and gate receipts to carry the costs of a pigskin program. Since June, CUFC fundraisers have secured pledges for a significant portion of the $1 million a year the team will need to cover start-up and operational costs over its first five seasons.
To ensure a 2012 kickoff, McKerrow and company hope to nail down commitments for the entire amount by the end of November.
The group is also developing a financial plan to secure long-term viability for the team. So far, the shiniest halo among the financial angels belongs to former Ravens linebacker John Ruddy, BArch/75, president of Trinity Development Group and a partner in Ottawa Sports and Entertainment, the consortium behind a proposal to redevelop Lansdowne Park and bring CFL football back to the capital.
Unconnected to the Lansdowne bid, Ruddy has pledged $2.5 million toward raising his old team from the ashes.
To field a team in 2012, CUFC must make its intentions known to the Ontario University Athletics organization by next May. The club hopes to have a head coach in place by then.
The Ravens would play their home games at Carleton’s Keith Harris Stadium, where seating will be upgraded to accommodate 3,000 spectators. Space for additional fans will be created on a berm on the east side of the field, while the annual Panda Game against University of Ottawa likely will continue to be played at Lansdowne Park. Dressing room and training facilities at Carleton will have to be expanded to create space for the Ravens and visiting teams. Also included in the team’s budget is $50,000 a year for a new women’s varsity team in a sport to be determined. Women’s rugby is a strong candidate.
For Carleton president Roseann O’Reilly Runte, a revived Ravens team would mark the second time she has presided over the resurrection of a football program. She was at the helm of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., when its team resumed play in 2009 after a 53-year hiatus.