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How the Ottawa REDBLACKS rose from the asphalt

Roger Greenberg reflects on making Lansdowne a home fit for a champion

TD Place hosts an Ottawa REDBLACKS game

Growing up in Ottawa in the 1960s and 70s meant you were living in the golden age of our city’s proud CFL football heritage.

Players like Russ Jackson, Ronnie Stewart, Soupy Campbell, Tony Gabriel and Tom Clements gave us five Grey Cup championships in those decades and lifelong memories of good times with friends and family at Lansdowne Park.

Among those fans in the stands in that era were three future business partners who would one day rekindle a passion for CFL football in Ottawa and revitalize Lansdowne.

“When we came on the scene in 2007, there was no CFL football in Ottawa” said Roger Greenberg, the executive chairman of the board of The Minto Group. “The Rough Riders and Renegades, our previous Ottawa franchises, had folded and Lansdowne, with the exception of the Aberdeen Pavilion, was just a couple of condemned buildings, a decrepit stadium and a sea of cracked and buckled concrete.” 

For Greenberg and his partners John Ruddy, the executive chairman of the Trinity Group of Companies, and Bill Shenkman, chairman of the Shenkman Group of Companies, it was a tragic sight.

They had experienced firsthand the golden age of football at Lansdowne and they understood what it meant to our city.

And so, in partnership with two other local business leaders (Jeff Hunt and John Pugh), they formed the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) to secure a CFL expansion team and partner with the City of Ottawa to revitalize Lansdowne.

The City would continue to own the land and fund construction/renovation of the stadium and a new urban park while OSEG would fund construction of a new mixed-use district and manage it and the stadium.

“The first phase of the Lansdowne project was our way of giving back to the community—we wanted to help create the kind of memories that we had as kids growing up in the city for a new generation,” said Greenberg.

And, over the last decade since the expansion REDBLACKS team played its first game in The Stadium at TD Place in 2014, that’s exactly what happened. 

In addition to the Ottawa REDBLACKS and 67s, TD Place is now home to Atletico Ottawa, PWHL Ottawa, the Blackjacks and over the next 12 months, the venue is expected to host over 180 concerts, and local, national, and international events. Ottawa REDBLACKS players run onto the field


The phase-one stadium design featured new south side stands and a somewhat refurbished north side stands. Phase-two, which is pending final approval from the City, will feature new north stands, a new multi-purpose arena/event centre and two new residential towers overlooking the mixed-use district.

Commenting on the design for the new south stands and future north stands, Greenberg said: “Fans are watching the game differently today, particularly younger fans. We built the wide-open stadium concourse on the south side to support what I like to call ‘social watching.’  It’s the place to be.” 

Indeed. On any given game night, the south stadium concourse, which has direct line-of-sight to the action on the field, is alive with fans of all ages throughout games.

The popularity of that concourse experience then led to the creation of two other vibrant social spaces at the west end of the field—the Subaru Log Cabin and the Upper Log Cabin, which hosts corporate gatherings during games.

Fans and colleagues can gather together at a drink rail or high-top table, order food and watch the game,” said Greenberg. “It’s just a great social atmosphere.”

Another source of pride for Greenberg is OSEG’s community engagement program, where players visit youth sports teams or schools or community groups to tell their stories of how participating in team sports and living a healthy lifestyle has had a positive impact on their lives.

“We’re not a nameless, faceless corporation,” said Greenberg. “Our mentorship program has been a big success because our players care, and they take seriously their responsibility as role models and ambassadors for our organization.

Win or lose, you see them on the field interacting with fans after games and that’s very special for me.”

As the REDBLACKS prepare to kick off their 10th anniversary season, fans are looking forward to celebrating many of the great moments that happened over the past decade—the opening night victory over Toronto in 2014, the Burris to Ellingson “Miracle” touchdown that earned the team a trip to the Grey Cup in 2015, winning the Grey Cup in 2016, hosting the Grey Cup game in 2017 when Shania Twain entered the stadium on a dogsled, and appearing in the Grey Cup for a 3rd time in 2018.

It’s been a remarkable ride so far … perhaps one that serves as the foundation for the next “golden age” of football and memories made at Lansdowne.