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Ottawa Champions Could Seek Ballpark Upgrades

Ottawa Champions

The Ottawa Champions (independent; Can-Am League) could seek to spruce up Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park in the coming years.

In a few months, the Champions will begin their third season in Ottawa. The arrival of the franchise in 2015 prompted some upgrades at Raymond Chabot Grant Thorton Park, which originally opened as JetForm Park in 1993 to host the Ottawa Lynx (Class AAA; International League).

Looking at the long term, however, the Champions say that they believe more improvements should be considered. Some of the ballpark’s existing features, combined with convenient access to an light rail stop, make upgrades desirable.

The Champions want to consider those advantages and talk to the city about what could be planned for the facility, according to team president David Gourlay. More from the Ottawa Citizen:

“We need to be innovative. We need to be pioneers,” Gourlay said, pointing out the future Tremblay LRT station linked to the stadium by a pedestrian bridge over Highway 417.

“I would like to have a discussion with the city.”

But that’s as far as Gourlay would get into his dream for stadium, where the Champions have just entered their third year of a 10-year lease with the City of Ottawa.

Gourlay, however, isn’t shy about the club’s interest in pursuing significant changes in the stadium itself, such as the winter dome, accommodating multiple indoor sports in baseball’s off-season, and the removal of some of the 10,000 seats to create animated viewing areas for baseball.

Who would pay for a winter dome?

Gourlay isn’t sure yet, but he sees it as a possible joint venture with the city.

The 10-year lease between the city and Champions was originally agreed upon when the franchise arrived in Ottawa. In 2016, the club averaged 2,454 per game, which marked an increase from the 2015 average of 2,228.

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