Three local investors have reached an agreement to buy the Ottawa Champions from Miles Wolff, but the franchise’s future remains uncertain amidst debate over the lease to RCGT Park.
Over the summer, Ottawa officials terminated the Champions’ RCGT Park lease while both sides moved forward with an agreement that allowed the club to continue operations during the 2019 season on a per-hour arrangement. The Champions had been committed to the facility under a 10-year lease since their 2015 launch, but the agreement was terminated by the city earlier this year after the team fell C$418,942 in arrears.
Wolff has been working to sell the team, and has come to an agreement with a slate of local investors that includes Ray Abboud, Rob Lavoie, and Fred Saghbini. The agreement, though, does not completely clarify the Champions’ future, as city officials continue to sort through their options for a ballpark lease. Along with the group set to purchase the Champions, another party interested in the use of RCGT Park is Ottawa Sports Entertainment Group (OSEC). OSEC already operates three sports teams–the CFL’s Ottawa Redbacks, the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s and USL Championship’s Ottawa Fury FC–while managing TD Place Stadium and TD Place Arena. In addition, it has brought in Regan Katz, vice-president and chief operating officer of the Winnipeg Goldeyes (independent; American Association) as part of its bid.
For now, both groups will continue working to push their plans forward. More from the Ottawa Citizen:
Abboud said he and his partners Rob Lavoie and Fred Saghbini remain hopeful of being able to field a team in 2020, although he would not say who their opposition would be. Abboud is a financial planner, Lavoie runs local Play It Again Sports stores and Saghbini is in project management.
“All I can say is the fans will be pleased,” said Abboud….
But Sam Katz, part of a group that has teamed with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to make their own bid for the right to play at the stadium, says his group’s negotiations are continuing.
“What I can say is that the city has prepared some rigorous criteria on who they’re going to give the lease to, (and) we’re continuing to prepare that information,” said Katz in a telephone interview from Winnipeg.
The Champions are not included in plans to merge former Can-Am League teams into the Frontier League that was announced on Wednesday. Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee acknowledges that there was some preliminary discussion about including Ottawa in the circuit, but that the lack of a lease agreement made that idea unworkable. More from the Ottawa Citizen:
“Ottawa was in the conversation (about a merger),” Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee told a news conference Wednesday.
“But the fact was they had no valid (stadium) lease.”
RCGT Park first opened as JetForm Park in 1993 for the Ottawa Lynx (Class AAA; International League), before hosting multiple independent clubs following the Lynx’s relocation to Allentown, PA after the 2007 season.
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