The owners of the Ottawa Fat Cats say they’re willing to share Ottawa Stadium with a Class AA Eastern League team, as Ottawa decides to put a lease up to bid.
The Fat Cats play in the semi-pro Intercounty Baseball League and had some success at the box office, especially this past season, so the desire of the Fat Cats owners to stay at Ottawa Stadium will certainly carry some weight. Still, with a bid process that requires tenants to disclose part of their business plan (i.e., how much money they’re willing to invest in the ballpark), the Fat Cats may not be able to match the millions of dollars an MiLB team would likely invest in Ottawa Stadium to make a run at a successful franchise.
Which is why the Fat Cats ownership is already positioning itself to be a co-tenant in the ballpark should an Eastern League ownership group. In a meeting of the Ottawa City Council Finance Committee last night, Fat Cats CEO Brian Carolan said two teams could easily share Ottawa Stadium, which would mean 120 or so games played there every summer. Wear and tear on turf won’t be an issue — new artificial turf is on the agenda for city-financed upgrades — and the biggest roadblock would be scheduling.
We’re guessing that if two teams were to share Ottawa Stadium, the Fat Cats would need to make some major concessions in terms of scheduling. First off: the Fat Cats play all their games on weekends in the prime time of the season — June, July and early August. No way an MiLB team is going to give up those dates without a huge fight.
Local media is reporting about a plethora of teams possible for a move to Ottawa, but you’re only going to see one serious MiLB bid. We continue to hear from owners and brokers that talks are at the advanced stage to buy the Binghamton Mets (Class AA; Eastern League) franchise. That’s not to say the city would not have baseball come 2013; we’re also told the back end of that transaction would be the B-Mets ownership buying a short-season NY-Penn League team and running it out of NYSEG Stadium.
Simply put, MiLB rules would not allow multiple teams bidding for the Ottawa Stadium lease. Mandalay Baseball has already received permission from MiLB to explore a move to Montreal if a ballpark deal can be reached, so there’s no chance the Erie SeaWolves would be moving to Ottawa unless B-Mets negotiations completely collapse and MiLB signs off on Mandalay exploring a move to the Ottawa territory. Remember, MiLB controls which teams can explore moves to open markets, and in this case the permissions for Ottawa and Montreal are limited to the B-Mets and SeaWolves owners, we’re told by several MiLB owners.
RELATED STORIES: Group seeks Ottawa Stadium lease for 2013 and beyond; Ottawa out of running for SWB Yankees — but in line for affiliated ball; NY Yankees making moves with minor-league teams; Fat Cats owners may seek affiliated team for Ottawa; 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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