With the prospects of pro baseball returning to Ottawa dimming daily, Mayor Jim Watson is heading to Toronto to meet with Blue Jays officials about their interest in putting a team in Canada’s capital.
Watson has led an effort to bring a team to Ottawa Stadium and brokered a deal with Beacon Sports on a lease agreement. However, Beacon has had little success in convincing a potential ownership group to buy a Class AA Eastern League team and moving it to Ottawa; the lease calls for some major investment from an ownership group, upwards of $20 million. Ryan-Sanders Baseball passed on a deal. Mandalay Baseball Properties officials toured the ballpark late last year, but now with the Mandalay holding company for sale, there’s no way a deal could be made with them.
And we’re not so sure the Blue Jays want to be in the MiLB ownership business, either. The team has focused its efforts on building the team and improving Rogers Centre; a new spring-training complex is in the wings as well. From the Ottawa Citizen:
“The Jays are very interested and keen on Ottawa and they always have been,” Watson said. “They like this market. They portray themselves as Canada’s team and I think it’s a good fit for them to have a Double-A franchise in the second-largest city in the province … Certainly in discussions I’ve had with a lot of fans in Ottawa, they think that without the Jays it won’t be a success, because you have to have that high a profile and credible organization like the Jays involved.”
The Toronto team is owned by Rogers, which owns Ottawa radio stations that might broadcast games, Watson added.
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