A rather breathless and inaccurate report in the Ottawa Citizen has some locals excited about the possible return of pro baseball to the Canadian capital.
The report, which you can read here, has one central fact correct: Mandalay Baseball Properties and Professional Sports Catering officials did indeed visit Ottawa Stadium near the beginning of the year to look over Ottawa Stadium and review the financials with officials in the mayor’s office. That meeting has been followed up with other discussions.
But nothing else in the story, basically, is correct, according to owners with knowledge of the situation. First, there are some little inaccuracies — no, PSC does not own the Quad Cities River Bandits or the South Bend Silver Hawks (Low Class A; Midwest League). Second, there’s a whopper; the Erie SeaWolves (Class AA; Eastern League), currently owned by Mandalay Baseball Properties, would not be the team moving to Ottawa should a deal take place. Remember, the broker putting together the deal — Rick Billings of Beacon Capital — reps the Binghamton Mets in this deal. What’s been discussed: a sale of Erie to comply with MiLB ownership rules and then a purchase/move of Binghamton. Which, of course, makes for a complicated deal.
And a complicated deal is always hard to pull off, which is why Mayor Jim Watson says he was briefed on a potential deal a few weeks ago and isn’t expecting anything for another two to three weeks. On the one hand, baseball owners receive pitches from cities all the time, whether it’s official or a back-channel communication, and discussions like the ones in Ottawa happen more often than folks assume. Now, putting together big deals is something where both Mandalay and PSC have experience (whether it’s engineering an expensive ballpark renovation in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or building a major business from a few original concession deals, as Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers have), but we’re talking something very complicated here, between the franchise shifts and working with the city to come up with more money for Ottawa Stadium renovations. And, of course, there’s the reality that Ottawa may not be the best market for pro baseball: an MiLB team would be fourth on the local sports-scene totem pole. So while a deal would not surprise us, it would also not surprise us if the pair walks away from a potential deal if the numbers don’t work.
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