A partnership between Winnipeg Goldeyes owner Sam Katz and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) will bring the Frontier League to Ottawa’s RCGT Park in the latest attempt to keep professional baseball in the Canadian capital.
This is not a surprise: last fall Ottawa officials signaled support for the Katz/OSEG bid for a RCGT Park lease over a competing bid from a trio of local investors whose business plan involved buying the assets of the Ottawa Champions from owner Miles Wolff. The Katz/OSEG group had also discussed an expansion team in the Atlantic League as well as the Frontier League, which had absorbed the Champions’ former league, the Can-Am League. In the end, the Frontier League and its existing teams in Québec and Trois-Rivieres made the most sense.
“Our ownership team is thrilled to be joining the Frontier League,” Katz said. “For nearly 30 years, the Frontier League has helped set the bar for independent baseball, and we are proud to become a part of its rich history. We very much look forward to serving the City of Ottawa, and providing our fans affordable, family-friendly entertainment for years to come.”
Katz has the baseball experience in the partnership, serving as President & CEO of the American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes since their inception for the 1994 season. In that time he led construction of Shaw Park in downtown Winnipeg while serving as mayor of Winnipeg from 2004-14. OSEG does have the broader sports experience: OSEG owns and operates the Ottawa Redblacks CFL team and the Ottawa 67’s OHL junior-hockey team, while also managing and programming events in the TD Place stadium arena complex. Regan Katz, Sam’s son, has been named Vice-President for Ottawa and will lead the team’s day-to-day operations, with a goal of having an office open in Ottawa in late October.
The Katz-OSEG group is the latest effort to maintain pro baseball at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT) Park, which opened in 1993 as the home of the Ottawa Lynx (Class AAA; International League) from 1993-2007. Since then there were several efforts at independent baseball at RCGT Park.
“The Frontier League is pleased and proud to welcome the City of Ottawa to our League,” said Commissioner Bill Lee. “Ottawa is a major league city that deserves professional baseball. The ownership group of Sam Katz and OSEG provide great experience in owning and operating sports teams and facilities.”
The lease between Katz, who is hoping to have a manager for the new Ottawa team in place “within 30-60 days” and the city begins Jan. 1. The annual lease payment to the city is $125,000 (plus H.S.T.) per year for base rent, payable in six monthly instalments beginning next May 1 and continuing until Oct 1 and each subsequent year of the lease. The city has also placed a Municipal Capital Facility Agreement designation on the stadium which exempts it from municipal taxes. Katz has accepted the Ottawa Baseball Stadium on an “as is” basis, with no additional maintenance or investment from the city. He hasalso agreed to pay the $473,000 arrears owed by the previous baseball tenant, the Champions.
Photo of RCGT Park courtesy Frontier League.
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