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Ottawa: Ballpark should be converted to concert venue

Ottawa LynxOttawa Stadium, the former home to International League and Can-Am League teams, should be converted to a multiuse concert and event venue, under a city-staff recommendation due for debate this week.

The ballpark, formerly home to the Ottawa Lynx (Class AAA; International League) and two Can-Am League teams, is currently leased to a local semi-pro team through 2012. After that lease ends, the 10,000-seat ballpark should be converted to a multi-use venue: the ballpark is in good shape, the costs of conversion are affordable, and transit changes in the area make it more suitable for big events rather than a full season of baseball — indeed, the report calls for the ballpark parking to be sold to developers.

Another big reason for the conversion: city staffers assume there’s no demand in the city for a professional-baseball venue.

“There is little or no current evidence to indicate that a purpose-built baseball stadium can be financially sustained in the long-term by reliance on a professional or semi-professional baseball being the predominant use for the facility,” the report said.

We’re a little surprised there hasn’t been much talk of affiliated ball returning to the area, particularly when there are NY-Penn League teams struggling at the box office. Ottawa is only four hours or so outside the NY-Penn footprint’s northernmost team — the Vermont Lake Monsters — and it would be one of the larger markets in the short-season circuit. The lease doesn’t seem to be that exorbitant ($108,000 a year), either. The Toronto Blue Jays had been working with a local group to return affiliated baseball to Ottawa, but apparently those efforts fizzled.

The Ottawa City Council is expected to begin discussions of the ballpark’s future as soon as a Tuesday committee meeting.

RELATED STORIES: Affiliated ball may be returning to Ottawa

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