Ottawa officials and Beacon Sports confirmed what we reported earlier this week: there will be no Class AA Eastern League team moving to Ottawa Stadium in 2013.
The pair finally acknowledged what baseball insiders have known for weeks: that no one was seriously interested in buying the Binghamton Mets (Class AA; Eastern League) and moving the franchise to Ottawa. Maybe it was the scope of the deal that scared off buyers (besides purchasing the franchise, a buyer would need to commit $5 million to ballpark improvements), maybe it was the unproven market where Triple-A ball ultimately failed, but despite their best efforts Rick Billings and the rest of the Beacon Sports folks couldn't broker a deal. Indeed, the whole process has been somewhat of a cruel hoax on Ottawa citizens: despite the willingness of Ottawa officials to work out a lease calling for a sizable city commitment to Ottawa Stadium upgrades, there was never a team poised to move. Add to the mix a local cheerleader press ill-informed on how the business of baseball works (yeah, we're looking at you, Bulldog), and you have a lot of hopes unnecessarily raised. Not that a buyer won't emerge in the future -- and we're of the belief the Ottawa market is attractive and viable -- but it never was close to reality for 2013.
Which was made official yesterday with a letter submitted to Ottawa officials by Billings: "Despite the best efforts of all parties involved, we have simply run out of time in terms of securing a lease and receiving appropriate Baseball approvals to relocate an Eastern League team to Ottawa for the 2013 Baseball season."
Still, efforts to bring an Eastern League team to Ottawa will continue; the terms of a proposed lease will be finalized and shopped around to prospective buyers, and the city will move ahead on some basic repairs to the ballpark.
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