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Group makes pitch to return pro baseball to Ottawa

A local businessman wants to lease Ottawa Stadium and bring in an independent Can-Am Association team for 2010; Miles Wolff says there's a lot of interest in bringing baseball back to Canada's capital.

David Butler, a local businessman and CEO of the Byfield Trolley Company, held an event yesterday to announce his interest in leasing Ottawa Stadium and bringing in pro baseball, as well as other events.

Butler's plan sounds as much a development play as a baseball play, as he talked about bringing other businesses to the former home of the Ottawa Lynx (Class AAA; International League) and the Ottawa Rapidz (independent; Can-Am Association). While he wasn't specific about the kind of pro baseball he was pursuing, it's pretty clear he was discussing indy ball in the form of the Can-Am Association.

Which will be a challenge. The Rapidz folded after one season, leaving behind a trail of debt and bad feelings on both sides. Can-Am Association president Miles Wolff honored the league's lease for the 10,000-seat ballpark this season — at a cost of $108,000 — but declined to put a team in the facility, saying the operational costs at the ballpark were too high.

Enter Butler, who says he wants a much more favorable lease for the ballpark. Ottawa officials had targeted the ballpark for development, but those plans have largely fizzled; ironically, the cratering of the economy has helped preserve Ottawa Stadium. 

And, quite honestly, Butler may need a little assist from the Can-Am Association for a ballpark plan to work. The stated price in the past for a league membership (the Can-Am Association, like many indy leagues, doesn't have the same franchise ruiles as the affiliated leagues do) has been $750,000, but that figure may not be written in stone.

RELATED STORIES: Ottawa Stadium crumbling for lack of a tenant; Can-Am Association to field only six teams this season; Rapidz owners sue Can-Am Association, alleging they were driven out of circuit; Rapidz owners throw in the towel after lease issues arise

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