City Seeing Curveballs On Stadium Deal

- December 6th, 2012

If the baseball talks behind the scenes keep hitting roadblocks, council could be left debating the future of the Ottawa Stadium again.

File photo. The Kitchner Panthers took on the Ottawa Fat Cats at Ottawa Stadium, Monday May 23, 2011. TONY CALDWELL/OTTAWA SUN/QMI AGENCY

My Sun colleague Aedan Helmer has been writing about local ownership interest, and while it appears quite strong, there still isn’t a deep-pocketed investor south of the border who could prop up the organization.

I’m not sure anyone at City Hall thought it was going to be this difficult bringing a double-A team to Ottawa. This is partly because most political insiders don’t know the ins and outs of the big league baseball business. Turns out it can be quite clandestine since there are strict rules about teams talking publicly about relocation or affiliating with Major League Baseball clubs, such as, say, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Remember, council has signed off on borrowing* $5.7 million for renovations at the stadium. Another $5.5 million was going to come from Beacon Sports Capital Partners, the U.S. firm trying to broker the relocation deal. Beacon received permission from the Eastern League to relocate a team (the Binghamton Mets) and it reached a lease agreement in principle with City Hall.

Now Beacon just needs the ownership in place.

The city is willing to wait until early 2013 to hear back from Beacon on the transaction. If it works out, the renovations would need to begin quickly for the 2014 ball season.

It’s a tad worrisome it’s taking so long to nail this down. If Beacon can’t get someone interested in investing in Ottawa baseball, it would truly be lights out for bringing back high-quality pro ball, and there would be, again, debate about keeping the stadium or razing it for condos.

Much has been made about how wonderful it will be to have so many sports franchises in Ottawa in the coming years. The Canadian Football League is coming, so is the North American Soccer League. There’s this National Basketball League of Canada team, too.

And it is wonderful.

But you have to wonder which sport, or sports, will suffer when families face the tough decision of where to spend their sports entertainment money. The fear is baseball, again, will be frozen out.

We’re waiting to see if pro baseball will get another opportunity to compete for those dollars.

* Dec. 8 update: I was reminded that earlier this year the city decided it wasn’t going to borrow the renovation money but instead use money from the 2011 surplus.

—–
Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Categories: Ottawa Stadium

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available