UPI Shareholders & "The Fab Five"

Special Merit 

OCUA recognizes many of its members who commited to becoming UPI Shareholders. Plus a SPECIAL RECOGNITION of (5) individuals or groups who made a more substantial investment of support. They are known as, "The Fab Five".

David Knowles | 50 shares (An Ottawa Ultimate player and our largest individual shareholder)
John Harris | 25 shares  (A Toronto Ultimate player and our second largest individual shareholder)
Toronto Ultimate Club (TUC) | 25 shares
Association d’Ultimate de Montreal (AUM) | 20 shares
Canadian Ultimate Player’s Association (now Ultimate Canada) | 10 shares

The Story (Part One, by Craig Fielding)

A long time ago we rented a 16 fields at a place we called The Sod Farm. We thought we'd be there forever. Then . . . they raised the rent.

Our growth looked like this flow-chart. (see image)

We decided the only way Ultimate could be sure of its future was to own land and the idea for UPI was born. We had $65000 in the bank. Barely enough to build fields even if someone gave us land to build on.

We had good income from the summer league so we asked the banks for a loan. Without a co-signer they wouldn't help. I phoned the mayor, Jim Watson, when he was mayor of Ottawa the first time and asked the city to co-sign. He laughed and said, "no".

One of the bank managers turned us down and said, "your biggest asset is your own membership." And so we decided to sell shares and spread the word through our printed and distributed league newsletter, The Ottawa Ultimate Review (T.O.U.R.) [see T.O.U.R. cover headline]

Back then OCUA was not the organization it is today. The Internet was just catching on and only a few members were connected. Volunteers ran everything from their homes. There were no employees and no office and every team appointed a director so the Board had over 200 directors. There was one annual Board meeting; this meeting! and OCUA was mostly just the summer league. A lot of people questioned if OCUA has the wherewithal to pull it off. Would the fields happen and would they ever see their money again?

The lawyers set it up that to be viable we had to sell 500 shares and raise $100,000 by Sep 15 of that summer. If we failed, we had to return all the money and cancel the project. We just made it with 514 shares sold by then. We continued to sell shares after that and that helped pay for the parking lot, the irrigation system, three more fields, and the bridge to 18&19.

The generous contributions of the shareholders made UPI possible for all of us and for future Ultimate players, and for THIS reason we are inducting them into our Hall of Fame.

However, there is a bit more to the story. When we announced the plan to buy land we received some unexpected and extraordinary support. So we also want to call out the contributions of five shareholders or as they've been dubbed, the fab five.

First out of the gate was Montreal. We announced in February our plan to buy land and the next thing we knew we received this amazing endorsement from Montreal. It read . . .

"I hope you are all aware of OCUA's plan to purchase 100 acres of land near the Sod Farm for development into Ultimate fields, and they are selling shares to raise the capital. If you didn't know, then now you do. I am proud to report that the Council members of the AUM have voted unanimously in favour of supporting the proposed OCUA Land Deal by immediately purchasing 20 shares, and by encouraging donations or outright share purchases by Ultimate players throughout Montreal.The AUM Council members commend the OCUA for daring to undertake such an extraordinary venture, and foresee that its success may depend upon nationwide cooperation through financial support. The Council members recognise this Land Deal as a tremendous opportunity to earn greater public acceptance of the sport, and envision it as an epic milestone toward the betterment of Ultimate across Canada." The tenet "A man is nothing without land" can be extended to the sport of Ultimate: Without land, Ultimate might endlessly struggle for recognition. This Land Deal is the right step toward earning a well-deserved legitimacy. Land ownership by any league in Canada is to the advantage of every league in Canada. The AUM Council members encourage all leagues and players throughout Canada to invest in this courageous move toward a more promising future for everyone."

The Toronto Ultimate Club and Ultimate Canada followed suit and made significant contributions. Montreal, Toronto, and Ultimate Canada were all smaller than OCUA which made their contributions significant.

There’s more to the story . . . to be continued with Part Two . . .