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CFL commissioner Mark Cohon praises Redblacks ownership prior to home opener

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OTTAWA - Marc Cohon never tires of singing the praises of the Ottawa Redblacks ownership group.

The CFL commissioner spoke to media prior to the start of the Redblacks home opener at the newly refurbished Lansdowne Park, now known as TD Place.

Friday's game signifies the return of CFL football in the nation's capital for the first time in nine years, but this time Cohon is convinced football is back for good.

"We always believed in our ownership group and we had great support at the city council," said Cohon. "I think those two groups working together got us to this point today. It took longer, obviously there were some skeptics and some roadblocks along the way, but look at this — you have one of the best facilities in North America I believe and when the whole project is done it's going to be a great social environment.

"You have what looks like a competitive team, corporate support, you've got 17,000 season ticket holders and the ownership group that I've talked about being the dream team. It's a recipe for success."

Cohon had always been a vocal supporter for the return of football in Ottawa and it's clear Friday's game is a personal celebration.

"You've heard my quote before and I'll say it again, we had a hole in the heart of the CFL," said Cohon. "I think what this ultimately means for us is we have more people watching our game … this means the CFL is growing and expanding and in a big market like Ontario it's important for us to be in one of its largest cities."

The 48-year-old commissioner's commitment to football in Ottawa has even earned him personal recognition as he admitted to being recognized by fans and given thanks for helping with the Redblacks.

When asked about Ottawa hosting a Grey Cup Cohon couldn't help but laugh, but did say there was an agreement in place for the Redblacks to host a Grey Cup within the team's first four years of playing.

Many would love to see the Redblacks host in 2017 to coincide with Canada's 150th anniversary, although Cohon was noncommittal.

With the Redblacks now established, many expect expansion to be the focus for the nine-team league, but Cohon says attention needs to be given on getting the Toronto Argonauts out of Rogers Centre and hopefully securing a home at BMO Field.

In addition, Cohon may have to deal with further delays to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats new stadium.

Overall Cohon believes the league is in good standing. TV numbers are good and he expects them to improve as the season progresses.

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