Double-A baseball could be coming to Ottawa
The city of Ottawa's finance committee has voted to look for a long-term tenant for Ottawa's baseball stadium, paving the way for a Double-A baseball team.
Councillors behind the bid said the long-term lease would help keep baseball in the capital and save Ottawa Stadium from the wrecking ball.
Councillor Rick Chiarelli has travelled out of his own pocket touring American cities where minor league teams may be interested in moving.
Sources told CBC News he has found one, with the business group behind the Binghamton Mets — the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets — preparing a bid to move to Ottawa.
CBC has also learned that a last-minute deal could see a Toronto Blue Jays' minor league affiliate actually make the move in 2013.
Either way, Chiarelli says it's a win for baseball, and for the stadium.
"This gives us an opportunity to have a stable, long-term commitment for our facility, and enough money and capital to keep it maintained for use by families and young players who want someone to look up to," said Chiarelli.
The vote comes after a report on the stadium recommended city staff to solicit "best offers" to lease it for 2013.
Ottawa Stadium Group Ltd., the owner of the Ottawa Fat Cats, currently leases the stadium but has been operating on year-to-year leases. The group's latest lease expires in the spring.
Brian Carolan, the company's president and CEO, said the Fat Cats finished their season with 6,000 to 7,000 fans in the stands, and that, in a strange way, the team has become a victim of its own success.
"I think that's really what triggered all this, obviously if affiliated pro-ball is sitting in the U.S. and having relocation discussions, this is a beautiful city to come to," said Carolan.
Carolan says his group may partner with the winning bidder, or may look for a way to share the stadium. The city hopes to secure the new lease by January 2012.