Ravens will not take field at UCCU Complex this season


By Ron Giofu


Plans for the UCCU Complex to be the home of the Essex Ravens this season have been put on hold.

The football organization has chosen to remain in Essex for the upcoming season after a deal could not be finalized at the UCCU Complex. Timing and concerns over registration are seen as the major issues.

Ravens president Glen Mills said the organization wanted to be careful before entering into an agreement with the town.

“I think we just tried to move too quickly,” he said.

While it was a tight time frame to get everything finalized, registration was also a concern as some players from locations as the east end of Windsor, Tecumseh and Belle River were telling Mills it would be just too far to travel. Mills said the drive to Amherstburg for some players would be 50-60 minutes one way.

Returning to Essex this season provides a more central location for the program, he noted.

Mills said the Ravens informed the town roughly two weeks ago about their intention to stay in Essex. The door seemed open for the Ravens to possibly consider moving in the future.

“It’s not going to happen this year,” said Mills. “Right now, it’s not the time for us.”

There were concerns over the rising cost of the bleachers that were going to be installed but director of recreation and culture Dean Collver said that wasn’t a factor.

“It doesn’t really play into the Ravens’ deal at all,” said Collver.

Collver said the cost of the bleachers were never going to be passed on to the group and that he would have had to go to council to try and see if the town would pay the cost based on the business case of the Ravens’ tenancy.

The $29,000 per year fee the Ravens would have been charged was the same on the last day as it was on the first day of talks, he said.

Not having the Ravens move to the UCCU Complex is more a matter of timing and getting the details finished in time, he said.

“The reason for the Ravens not being here in 2013 is partly due to timing,” said Collver. “There simply wasn’t enough time to put all the details together, and be confident in the outcome, in the four months since council authorized us to proceed with our discussions.”

Collver also acknowledged the other concern from the Ravens over the distance some of the players would have to travel to and from Amherstburg.

“There was a perception that this was negatively influencing registration numbers,” said Collver.

The door hasn’t been closed from a town point-of-view either.

“We’ve tabled the idea for now because the season is upon us,” said Collver.

Attempts will be made over the next year to try and convince the Ravens that Amherstburg is the best option for them, Collver added.

“Our task over the next year is to convince the Ravens membership that upgrading their sports facility offsets the additional drive to games and practices. We believe that there is a great opportunity for the Ravens to live inside great facilities inside a great community here in Amherstburg and will be working to communicate that to the team over the next several months,” he stated.

Collver stated he will be having a full report come before council at the next meeting.

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