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Fat Cats owners may seek affiliated team for Ottawa

Minor League BaseballThe owners of the Ottawa Fat Cats are asking the city of Ottawa for an Ottawa Stadium lease extension in order to give the group time to seek a professional franchise for Canada’s capital, a request that seems to have slowed down the city’s ardor for renovating the ballpark as a multuse facility.

There’s no doubt the future of Ottawa Stadium, still considered to be a gem of a ballpark, is at a crossroads: there are some in city government who say baseball in Canada is on the decline and the ballpark is no longer needed, while others think that under the right circumstances — say, with a short-season-A team as a tenant — pro baseball could suceed in Ottawa.

The Ottawa City Council was slated to decide on the fate of the Ottawa Stadium yesterday using a 51-page report from city employees as a springboard. The recommendation in the report: sell the Ottawa Stadium parking lot to a developer and then conversion of the facility for concerts and other uses. The Council punted, though, saying more public input was needed.

Part of that input came from Ottawa Stadium Group (OSG), the owners of the Ottawa Fat Cats, a semi-pro team in the Intercounty Baseball League. Reps from the group say they want to extend their Ottawa Stadium lease past the Oct. 1, 2012 expiration of the current lease. The reasoning is simple — the group wants time to secure an affiliated team for the ballpark:

In brief, OSG will submit a request to the FEDCO for review and consideration of a lease extension for OSG at Ottawa Stadium that would, in effect, permit OSG to search and secure a professional baseball club for the city of Ottawa for the 2013 season and beyond. A long-term stadium lease must be completed and accompany the ownership group prior to approaching a professional baseball league to make an official expression of interest for a franchise.

OSG, who currently owns and manages the Ottawa Fat Cats Baseball Club, playing in the Intercounty Baseball League (Est. 1919), is requesting a 15-year lease extension for Ottawa Stadium, from October 1, 2012 through to September 30, 2127. OSG would be amenable to a FEDCO condition tied to the lease extension approval, whereby, the approval would be conditional on purchasing a professional baseball club. The condition would expire on October 1, 2012.

OSG is committed to ensuring the continuance of creating and returning the four main benefits outlined by the city of Ottawa Real Estate department while being financially responsible for the operational expenses, repairs, and rent of $108,000 of Ottawa Stadium. The four main criteria outlined by the city are; 1) revenue benefits; 2) Social benefits; 3) Environmental benefits: and 4) Cultural benefits.

It’s no secret there are some short-season A NY-Penn League teams on the market — the Batavia Muckdogs spring to mind — and there’s no doubt Ottawa would be a signficant upgrade to Batavia both in terms of ballpark and of market. In any case, the request from Ottawa Stadium Group seems to have had the intended purpose of halting any changes to Ottawa Stadium, at least in the short term.

RELATED STORIES: Valcke: Baseball can work in Ottawa; Ottawa: Ballpark should be converted to concert venue; Affiliated ball may be returning to Ottawa


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