Ottawa officials are endorsing an RCGT Park lease proposal from Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group and Winnipeg Goldeyes (independent; American Association) ownership, backing it over a bid from a group that has a tentative agreement to buy the Ottawa Champions.
A trio of local investors that includes Ray Abboud, Rob Lavoie and Fred Saghbini has reached an agreement in principal to buy the Champions from Miles Wolff. That purchase, however, would be contingent upon the group securing a new lease with the City of Ottawa, as city officials have been exploring their options for the ballpark since terminating the Champions’ lease over the summer. Along with the prospective Champions ownership group, a contingent that includes OSEG and Goldeyes owners has been vying for a long-term lease to the facility.
The city is taking steps to move forward with a 10-year lease with the OSEG/Goldeyes group, as staff members released a report Friday endorsing the proposal. Professional baseball at the independent ranks could be part of the group’s plans for RCGT Park, with expression of interest letters in place for an Ottawa team from both the Atlantic League and the Frontier League beginning in the 2021 season. More from the CBC:
The report notes that the OSEG bid included two “expression of interest letters” offering Ottawa franchises for the 2021 season: one from the merged league, and one from the Atlantic League, which currently includes eight teams from Texas and the northeastern United States.
Both leagues are planning to expand in 2021, the report said.
As well, OSEG has promised a “$500,000 capital injection into the franchise” and to settle “outstanding arrears from the previous owner,” the report said.
Both groups were aware the city expects them to clear nearly half a million dollars in debt the Champions owe before they field a team.
As part of the process, a potential lease is expected to be considered by the city’s finance and economic development committee in early December. Uncertainty surrounding the lease contributed to the Champions being excluded from the Frontier League’s 2020 lineup after former Can-Am League teams merged into the circuit. The Champions competed in the Can-Am League from 2015-2019.
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.
RELATED STORIES: Ottawa Champions Sold, But Future Still Uncertain; Two Groups Seek Ottawa Ballpark Lease; Ottawa Champions Sale in the Works; Should Ottawa Plan for MLB’s Potential Montreal Return?; Ottawa Champions Lease Terminated; Will Rent Ballpark By the Hour