Double-A baseball bid rejected by Ottawa city committee
Costs to upgrade Ottawa Stadium seen as prohibitive
Ottawa's finance and economic development committee has thrown its support behind a plan to host an independent league team at Ottawa Stadium, rather than a team affiliated with a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise.
The city had been pursuing a Double-A team for the vacant stadium, but the one bidder that came forward wanted more than $40 million in stadium upgrades and a 20-year lease.
Instead city staff recommended approving an offer from the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball to lease the stadium.
Under the terms of the proposal, Ottawa would have a team by May 2015. The terms of the deal would include a ten-year lease with an option for later extensions, a $750,000 initial capital cost and an annual operating cost of $400,000.
The team would play 50 home games a year at the stadium.
Councillors on the FEDCO committee approved the proposal 9 to 1.
Orleans councillor Bob Monette said the costs of a double-A team were too high, but said finding a tenant for the stadium was a priority.
"Tearing down the stadium will never be an option for me," said Monette.
Can-Am league questioned
Some councillors questioned how viable a partner a Can-Am team would be.
A Can-Am franchise, the Ottawa Rapidz, lasted only one season in 2008 before folding.
The league has two other Canadian teams in Quebec City and Trois Rivieres, Que., along with three in the northeastern United States.
Kanata South councillor Allan Hubley, the lone dissenter, said he couldn't support a deal with a five-team league.
"Will it be groundhog day over and over again, playing the same teams?"
Monette, however, said there is appetite for baseball in the city, saying the semi-pro Fat Cats averaged 3,000 fans a game.
"We're talking professional now, not only for one year or two years but for the long haul," he said.
City council must still approve the plan. They meet next on Oct. 9.