Ottawa Sports Market the Real Winner as REDBLACKS Book Return Trip to Grey Cup

Images courtesy of @Redblacks.

The Ottawa REDBLACKS are headed to their second-straight Grey Cup following 35-23 win over the visiting Edmonton Eskimos in the East Division final.

The REDBLACKS raced out to a  17-3 halftime lead, and led by as much as 22 before Edmonton made an ill-fated comeback attempt.

Sunday’s heroes for Ottawa were as unlikely as the weather was conducive to pretty football. Canadian-born REDBLACKS running back Kienan Lafrance nearly matched his season total for rush yards (163) with a 157-yard performance, while 30 year-old return man Tristan Jackson — who questioned his future in pro football at the season’s outset— sprinted through the snow for an electrifying 76-yard punt-return touchdown.

Last night’s victory has Ottawa, which posted an unspectacular 8-9-1 record in the weaker of the CFL’s two divisions during the regular season, on the brink of a league championship.


The team standing between the nation’s capital and its first Grey Cup since 1976, however, is about as strong as they come.

CFL regular-season title-holders Calgary finished the season with a 15-2-1 mark, and boast the league’s best offence (586 points for) and defence (369 points against). Head coach Dave Dickenson’s Stampeders are, to put it bluntly, the best team in the CFL by a country mile, having steamrolled over virtually everybody in the CFL at some point this season. The team’s top roster hasn’t lost a game since late June, when they fell 20-18 at BC in Week 1. Coincidentally, the Stamps thrashed that same BC team 42-15 in the West Final on Sunday.

Regardless of what happens at next Sunday’s Grey Cup in Toronto — whether Calgary covers the spread and records the expected double-digit victory over the REDBLACKS or not — this season has been a resounding success for Ottawa, both the franchise and the city.

Relative to 2015, when the REDBLACKS went 7-2 at home and were considered amongst the CFL’s elite, the 2016 season was something of a flop. Ottawa posted a dismal 2-6-1 record on home turf, and took until Week 19 to lock up an impotent East Division. The overwhelming positive, however, was the support the team received: Crowds never wavered, and the team’s diehard support has remained consistent.


I’d wager that what the REDBLACKS have achieved off the field is at least as important, if not more so, than what the organization’s accomplished on it. By both reinvigorating the old-school football community and making TD Place and the surrounding complex a destination for younger fans, the team has given Ottawa a new ‘it’ spot for people to spend their sports dollars at.

In 2014, the pro football team brought diversity to the Ottawa sports market. In 2015, it brought Ottawa as close to a professional championship as any other outfit had in the last eight years. In 2016, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s Grey Cup, the team has solidified its place as a unique and varied sports destination in Ottawa — chalk that one up as a win for the nation’s capital.