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Capitals owners: NAL is nice, but we really want PCL ball

Edmonton CapitalsThe Edmonton Capitals are set for a season in the independent North American League, but the team’s owners are pretty open about their lack of enthusiasm about indy ball — and their preference to field a team in the Pacific Coast League. Good luck.

The Capitals are owned by the Katz Group, owner of the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and by all accounts one of the leading ownership groups in indy ball. Oilers President Patrick LaForge is also in charge of the Capitals, and he makes it quite clear PCL ball is the goal, not an extended run in the North American League. From the Edmonton Journal:

“The Cracker Cats were a civic embarrassment and somebody had to put an end to that,” said LaForge. “At the time, I was the (Chamber of Commerce chair) and I talked to Daryl (Katz), my new boss, about it. He gave me the green light to negotiate a deal and try to make it break even. I’m glad we’re running it, but for us it has to be more than a ballpark. And if we could upgrade the baseball [to the PCL], we would do it in a heartbeat. We’re lying in wait….

“We owe it to the city and to the ballpark. We have to continue to pursue it and may have to do it until after Branch Rickey dies,” said LaForge, who was not wishing the current PCL president ill health.

Fact is, Rickey presided over the departure of the Trappers for Texas and has no plans to move his league back into Canada any time soon. LaForge, ever the Edmonton booster, figures this is too good a sports town with too nice a park and too strong a provincial economy to settle for less than the best minor-league brand of ball available. That’s the problem, of course. He thinks the PCL should and will be available eventually to Edmontonians. Rickey disagrees.

(Some background: the former Edmonton Trappers were sold to Ryan Sanders Baseball and became the Round Rock Express. )

LaForge isn’t alone in seeing Edmonton as a potential PCL market: more than one team owner has expressed the same opinion to us in recent years. While the locale poses issues on the weather front, the border crossing isn’t seen as being a huge hurdle anymore, the exchange rate is tolerable and the potential ownership in Edmonton is pretty solid.

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