RedBlacks face uncertainty after CFL talks break down
Mayor Watson remains optimistic league and union will work out deal
The Ottawa RedBlacks say it's business as usual and are opening training camp this weekend, but players on the team expressed frustration over the breakdown in talks between the CFL and its players on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Training camp officially opens on Sunday for the team, and the expectation from both sides is that camps for all teams will open on schedule. RedBlacks rookies have been practising with the team since Wednesday.
The last day of rookie practice was Friday at Keith Harris Stadium.
RedBlacks defensive back and union representative Eric Fraser said Friday the labour impasse has been a distraction for players.
"It's hard to get really excited about things as a player when this is just weighing in the background, and this is all you're talking about the whole time," said Fraser.
Talks ended Thursday
Representatives from the CFL left the second day of talks abruptly Thursday after player representatives say the league rejected a new union proposal.
The current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players ended at midnight.
Jeff Hunt, a partner of RedBlacks owner Ottawa and Sports Entertainment Group did not comment about the negotiations, instead referring any questions to the Canadian Football League.
But earlier Thursday at a team event at Lansdowne Park, he had said the team was taking a "business as usual" attitude despite the labour talks.
"We are going forward as if everything is fine," he said Thursday morning before talks broke down.
A spokesman for Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said in an email statement Thursday the mayor remains optimistic both sides will reach an agreement fair for the league, players and fans.
Construction will continue at Lansdowne Park to ensure the stadium is ready for the team's July 18 home opener, according to the mayor's office.