Finally facing the reality that a proposed lease for Ottawa Stadium makes virtually no economic sense to an MiLB team owner, Ottawa officials are moving forward with a previously announced financing plan.
Regular readers of the site know we’ve hammered home the point that the original deal brokered by Beacon Sports with the city for Ottawa Stadium made no sense for a prospective team owner: any new team would begin at least $20 million in the hole after the purchase of a team, investing in the ballpark to the tune of $5.7 million and putting aside initial start-up costs. Ryan-Sanders Baseball, Manadalay Baseball Properties and at least one other prospective buyer came to the same conclusion: the economics of the deal made little sense. All for a Double-A team in a market where baseball would be fourth (at the most, after NHL hockey, CFL football, and junior hockey) on the local sporting totem pole.
Last month Ottawa officials announced they were revamping the financing plan, and those changes are now becoming real.
And Ottawa officials clung to that deal, not wishing to raise the wrath of voters already on the hook for one expensive renovation at Frank Clair Stadium. But with it increasingly apparent that no owner was stepping up to pursue the original deal, Ottawa officials are quietly revamping the ballpark renovation financing plan and will be present it at a meeting on June 12. The deal calls for the city to put in more money toward renovations designed to bring the ballpark back to MiLB specs while at the same time reducing seating and adding group areas and other premium spaces. The cost of the renovations, we’re told, could reach $20 million, with a good portion of that paid back by rent from a potential tenant. The pro team wouldn’t be asked to put in more than $5 million toward the ballpark renovations.
All of this would be funded by development on the ballpark site, but that would happen after the team was established — a decade down the line at the earliest. Whether or not this will be enough to deliver an owner remains to be seen. The two leading candidates looking at the property in the past may not be in position to buy and move a team: Ryan-Sanders Baseball seems to be scaling back after the loss of Reid Ryan to the Astros and the sale of the Corpus Christi Hooks (Class AA; Texas League), and Mandalay Baseball Properties is on the block. It will still take some big bucks and an aggressive attitude to make affiliated ball work in Ottawa.
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