OSEG transit deal should be duplicated for Champions

When crowds were sparse at Ottawa Stadium, it mostly had to do with lack of parking available in the area.

When crowds were sparse at Ottawa Stadium, it mostly had to do with lack of parking available in the area.

Ottawa is buzzing over the return of football with the RedBlacks moving in to the newly renovated TD Place.

Equally exciting is a Lansdowne Park that has been transformed from a sea of concrete into a vibrant village featuring unique stores, outdoor skating rinks, green space, condos and more.

In my opinion, these upgrades at Lansdowne will do wonders for the city and the sports scene, despite the loud cries of a small group of protesters.

However despite all this new infrastructure, a new problem has risen that makes the situation at TD Place somewhat familiar to that down the road at Ottawa Stadium; how in the hell are we going to get there?

With the buildings occupying the former parking lot at Lansdowne, spaces for cars have been reduced to paltry amounts. Only 500 spots will be available at Lansdowne Park, reduced from 2,200 before the renovations.

Similarly, the Ottawa Stadium parking lot was slowly eaten away during the Lynx existence, to the point where only 800 were available on site. Since then, this number has been reduced with the expansion of the Hampton Inn next door, and the addition of the pedestrian bridge. It is a rough estimate, but I’d say that just 600 spots remain on site.

To combat the parking issues for TD Place events, OSEG and the city of Ottawa have partnered and initiated a plan, titled The Game Plan to Get Down to Lansdowne.

The “game plan” consists of shuttles from various locations, incuding Carleton University and the RA Centre, as well as free OC Transpo bus service for those with a ticket to a TD Place event.

The first thought that came to mind when reading this was one of relief, knowing that I’ll be able to get to 67’s, Fury FC and RedBlacks games directly from school and not having to commute back to the east end before headed back in the same direction.

The second thought, however, had to do with baseball.

Remember when the Can-Am League was given the lease of Ottawa Stadium? The city claimed that they would help the team find parking in the area (but no guarantees).

Well, a similar plan to one that the city brought to life while collaborating with OSEG could do wonders for the baseball club, even if it’s on a smaller scale.

In fact, smaller scale fits the stadium plan perfectly, given the new pedestrian bridge that the city is currently in the process of building. This pedestrian bridge connects the stadium directly to the Tremblay Road transitway stop across the highway.

Since many busses will go directly to the ballpark, ease of access is there and the need for special routes to the ballpark disappears.

Free rides would help encourage those to bus as well. I already will be bussing and I know that many other fans will be, but an enticing element would be to negotiate free bus rides for those with tickets.

After all, the city just negotiated this with OSEG at TD Place. One would think that if the city values baseball as much as it does the other sports, the same would be done for the Champions.

Mayor Watson has a lot on the line with baseball. In my opinion it would be wise for him to advise OC Transpo to negotiate a similar deal with the baseball team in Ottawa.

If this is not done, it looks bad on the city to be helping one of their sports franchises with a parking problem and not the other. It also effectively nulls all of the mayor’s previous support for professional baseball, given that the city would be showing favouritism toward the OSEG group over the Champions.

If Jim Watson does want baseball to last in Ottawa, this could be the first step to success.

 

Ottawa Champions: How will they fare?

Occasionally, I have guest contributors pitch in with articles here at the Litter Box. A new writer, Matthew Rose, joins that crowd today. Matt will be contributing to the blog, helping cover the Champions. Here’s his first post – an introductory one if you will. Welcome to the team, Matt.

BY MATTHEW ROSE

Finally! The wait for the return of Ottawa baseball is over at last. With a new Can-Am baseball team set to join the league in 2015, there’s a new buzz around town. However, some are still a little skeptical.

For some residents of Ottawa, they couldn’t be happier about the new ball team. Some are still very disappointed in the fact that the Fat Cats were pushed out of town. I still sort of feel a bit confused as to why the Fat Cats left the city. They did attract fairly decent crowds and what’s better than going out to a game on a Sunday afternoon with your family?

With the Champions, we could probably have just as much fun! The Can-Am league however, only has 4 teams with Ottawa becoming it’s 5th – the schedules may become a bit tricky.

One thing that everyone can agree on is that the Ottawa Stadium needs significant upgrades and the city has promised to put quite a bit of money into it. The current seating capacity in the Stadium is approximately 10, 332 which is perfect considering the average attendance of a Can-Am league game is 2, 137.

This could mean the renovation of the Stadium could include taking out seats to put in something that makes the Stadium better or creates more money to put into something like the concession stands. I believe most people would agree that the concourse has been a major issue in the stadium.

There are currently 2 Canadian teams (Quebec, Trois-Rivieres) and 2 American teams (New Jersey, Rockland, NY). Since the league has reformed in 2005, the Quebec Capitales have won 6 championships (currently winning the championship 5 seasons straight). With a team name of the ‘Champions’, Ottawa’s expectations will be raised much higher and will most likely be laughed at if they’re terrible.header-bg.jpg

Before I end this blog, I’d just like to say a huge thankyou to Michael Nellis for giving me this opportunity. I love baseball and am very excited to be writing about my own city’s baseball. Here’s to a new and improved baseball team in Ottawa!

 

An inside look at Ottawa Stadium

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As you all know, the new Can-Am League squad coming to Ottawa was announced this past Monday as the Ottawa Champions. New team president Dave Gourlay has reassured that the team’s home, Ottawa Stadium, will be brought up to the standards of professional baseball.

In the mean time, the stadium is waiting for noticeable work to start. Given that, I figured that I would venture down to the ball park and take some pictures, to give everyone a gauge. We aren’t sure what exactly will be done during renovations, but they may become more noticeable thanks to these shots.

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An NCBL game was ongoing at the time that these pictures were taken – the Knights took on the Orioles in a Tier 3 match-up. It is nice to see community involvement at the stadium while we await the arrival of the Champions. Great seats still available!

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To the left of the stadium’s entrance we see a good portion of the parking lot cut off due to construction of the pedestrian bridge and the widening of Highway 417. As of now, it looks like a considerable amount of parking will be lost on the right field side.

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Here is another shot of the pedestrian bridge. I’m not sure what their plan is in terms of where it will be landing, but it seems like it could be connecting directly to the stadium. I wouldn’t be surprised to see two exits – one to the parking lot and the other to the ballpark.

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A few years earlier, this now empty concourse was filled with fans waiting for hot dogs and other various snacks. With some minor adjustments, it could do so again easily.

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Does this area look familiar? It should. This is the former merchandise shop at the stadium which seems to have now doubled as a storage room since the city took the building back from OSG. You can even see the Tax Man shopping cart in the middle of the room.

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The former lawn area on the left field side of the ballpark hasn’t actually changed that much from the days of the Fat Cats. I’ve always said that this area has potential for something very nice, such as an outdoor restaurant.

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However, the lawn is not the only area where you’ll find picnic tables at the moment. They have been placed all over the ballpark.

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The content of these signs has been a constant at the ballpark for years. If I recall correctly, the very same advertisements were up 7 years ago with the Lynx in town.

The old branding of the Rogers TV portion would back that up. I’d personally like to see not only new ads with the new team, but new stadium signage altogether. The current displays are old and rusty – one out toward the edge of the right field concourse was actually shaking in the wind.

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One area where I was impressed was the lack of the “Lynx” name still around the stadium. The only place where I could find it was on the parking gate entrances, and on this directory which displays “Lynx clubhouse” in the top left corner.

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And of course, what would a nearly-abandoned baseball park be without vegetation and weeds growing?

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There was no shortage of them either.

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I will leave off for today with a shot of what could be the most recognizable part of this ballpark – the scoreboard. It was the first and only scoreboard Ottawa Stadium has ever seen, but this is most likely one of the last shots you’ll ever see of it. The Champions will invest a considerable amount in a new board for their inaugural season.

$750,000 has been pledged toward the upgrading of this park. Soon, we will see all of it come to fruition. Consider this the final look at a version of Ottawa Stadium which has gone virtually untouched for 21 years.

Hopefully, most of the areas in dire need of replenishment will get just that.

The ‘Champs’ are here: Can-Am team announces name

Ottawa Stadium's seats won't be empty for much longer.

Ottawa Stadium’s seats won’t be empty for much longer.

Ottawa Stadium was packed with media members, civil servants and baseball executives Monday as the Ottawa Can-Am Franchise held their first press conference, unveiling the team’s name.

The event effectively launched a new era on Ottawa baseball.

The following is a press release from the Ottawa Media Group, the franchise’s media partner:

Ottawa, ON – The future of professional baseball in the Ottawa-Gatineau region looks bright after a major announcement today at Ottawa Stadium. Baseball visionary and CanAM Commissioner Miles Wolff announced with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson that community baseball champion, David Gourlay, will be President of Ottawa’s new CanAM team. They also officially unveiled the team name as “OTTAWA CHAMPIONS”.

“I fell in love with Ottawa and I promised to come back and not leave until we do it right,” said CanAM Commissioner Miles Wolff.  “We really look forward to the Champions playing ball in Ottawa next spring and staying for the long run.”

The City of Ottawa and the team signed a 10-year agreement to provide stability for the sport and an opportunity to bring more fans and events to an under-utilized facility. Ottawa will begin play in late May 2015 and will join established CanAM teams in Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Rockland (NY) and New Jersey.

“We’re glad to have the Champions in town starting next spring,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “This group provides strong local roots and it will help us revitalize Ottawa Stadium and the baseball community.”

The team will leverage the City’s investment in the facility and in turn devote a lot of time and effort to the community while looking for local partners and suppliers. The event also kicked off a logo contest for local graphic designers to come up with the visual aspects of the new team.

“The Champions will become a strong reflection of our community,” said the newly crowned President of the Ottawa Champions, David Gourlay. “We will focus on building partnerships to ensure families and baseball fans across the City enjoy the best possible experience at the ballpark while providing them an affordable and fun experience in the summer months”.

The team also announced a partnership with Ottawa Media Group, a newly minted communications firm headed by Eric Collard and Kimothy Walker and involving top local talent.

As expected, the Champions name has already met some harsh criticism – par for the course here in Ottawa.

Dave Gourlay has mentioned that the name not only represents the team’s eventual on-field success, which could very well happen with the right people in the right positions, but the community involvement that the franchise will take part in.

One would think that they will continue to support the Miracle League of Ottawa, of which Gourlay has an affiliation. The Miracle League’s goal is to allow special needs children to partake in the game of baseball – a commendable mission that heavily benefits the community.

I’ve liked this “community” spin on the new brand, and don’t mind its on-field implications either; it’s a bold name that will turn some heads around the Can-Am League and potentially the American Association. If anything, we can expect more heated competition at Ottawa Stadium come 2015.

The release above also mentions that the founder of Champions of Ottawa Baseball, David Gourlay, has been named team president.

For the long-term viability of the franchise, having someone like Gourlay at the helm is instrumental. He has proven since the launch of his campaign to bring Double-A baseball to Ottawa that he is not one to back down from a challenge.

As president of a Can-Am League team in Ottawa, Gourlay will face many challenges to do with the viability of the franchise in Ottawa and ways to make it a good fit. I have a good amount of confidence in Gourlay, who has shown that he is willing and able to back a Can-Am franchise.

Gourlay will help oversee many changes and approaches that were highlighted by Miles Wolff during a TSN 1200 interview this afternoon.

Currently, Wolff acts as majority owner of the franchise and doesn’t appear to feel any pressure to sell that stake off. We all remember Rob Hall’s tenure with the Ottawa Rapidz that was short-lived and eventually led to the folding of the franchise. Hall was allowed to take control of the Rapidz due to the haste selling of the franchise by the league.

However, Miles Wolff will be the first to tell you that his group made a mistake and is ready to learn from it this time around.

“Until Sunday I thought I had a potential majority owner, but as I mentioned in the past I rushed into ownership and it wasn’t right.” Wolff said to Lee Versage. “I just felt that the person we were talking to wasn’t the right fit.”

“This is too good a market not to do it right. It’s gotta be the right person with the right experience, so if majority ownership doesn’t happen, that’s not a problem.”

This mindset is encouraging and drives the average fan to believe Wolff and Gourlay when they say that things will be done differently this time around. If it is, we may see the full potential of the Ottawa market in full swing.

The success that Ottawa Stadium Group brought to the ballpark with the Fat Cats can be seen once again. With the Champions here and nearly set almost a year before opening pitch, it gives them much more time to plan and execute.

I hope others are as optimistic as I am.

In the coming months, we’ll see renovations take effect on Ottawa Stadium, a logo release and much more. We’ll be following it here on the Litter Box until opening pitch.

Ottawa Stadium elevator mishap highlights need for improvements

Baseball Day in Ottawa was the first action at Ottawa Stadium this season (source)

Baseball Day in Ottawa was the first action at Ottawa Stadium this season (source)

The first inaugural Baseball Day in Ottawa took place yesterday afternoon at Ottawa Stadium, which featured a lineup of Ottawa Knights games on the ballpark’s soggy field.

The Elite 18U Knights hosted the Carleton Russell Aces to start the festivities in the early afternoon, then the 18U AA Knights finished off the day with game number 2 of the double header as they entertained the Hull Volant – a club that has faced the IBL’s Fat Cats in the past.

The inaugural event was supposed to be kicked off by Mayor Jim Watson, Can-Am Commissioner Miles Wolff and hall-of-famer Fergie Jenkins – but an unscheduled incident prevented that from happening.

OTTAWA — The seventh-inning stretch couldn’t come soon enough for Mayor Jim Watson, Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins and nine others who were confined inside an Ottawa Stadium elevator for almost an hour Saturday during the city’s inaugural Baseball Day.

The incident — emblematic of Ottawa’s recent pro baseball fortunes — ended when one of the mayor’s aides, Will Bulmer, managed to open the elevator doors with his umbrella.

The party entered the elevator on the stadium’s fourth floor at about noon in order to take part in the 12:15 p.m. opening ceremonies on the stadium’s rain-soaked field.

But the elevator jammed between the third and fourth floors.

Multiple sources mention that over 10 people were in the elevator at the time and as seen above, they were headed to field level for the pre-game ceremonies. Given this information, it is reasonable to assume that commissioner Wolff was trapped along with Jenkins, Watson and Champions of Ottawa Baseball head Dave Gourlay.

Regardless of Wolff’s presence, the situation is still ridden with irony.

Mayor Jim Watson has been attempting to bring pro baseball back to Ottawa for a while now. In this quest for investors, the stadium itself has taken a place on the back burner. We’ve seen weeds growing in the infield on multiple occasions and now an elevator stalling between floors, long past its expiry date.

It just so happens that the man overseeing the upkeep of the stadium (albeit along with the rest of the city) was in the elevator at the time that it malfunctioned. How’s that for a wake-up call?

Don’t get me wrong, Jim Watson has done an admirable job keeping the baseball culture alive in the city and making the right decision by securing another Can-Am team. However, since the city tossed the Fat Cats out, the stadium’s condition has gone under the rug.

Due to that, we now see incidents like these pop up. It’s almost as if the elevator knew who was inside at the time that it shut down in an attempt to bring the dire need of improvements to the attention of the right people.

Hopefully, noticeable renovations start soon and we’ll be able to see the unfortunate hiccups come to an end. Miles Wolff did mention in an email this past winter that renovations are well underway.

“The city has already done considerable work at the stadium and will continue over the next year” Wolff said in December.

Until this work has completed, perhaps Ottawa Stadium users should consider taking the stairs.

Ottawa and Montreal: Baseball histories aren’t too far off

Both Ottawa and Montreal have very similar baseball histories, not differing far from each other (source)

Both Ottawa and Montreal have very similar baseball histories, not differing far from each other (source)

The city of Montreal just endured a baseball renaissance as the Toronto Blue Jays brought the final leg of their spring training to the Olympic Stadium.

Even though the Blue Jays have installed this Montreal series against the New York Mets as a way to expand their national footprint, the series has morphed into a celebration of Montreal baseball history, with Expos greats being honoured and Friday night’s game being dedicated to Gary Carter.

All in all, the weekend has re-opened the conversation of baseball in Montreal and the return of the Expos. Will it happen? It’s tough to say, with so many unknown answers at the moment. However while the weekend in Montreal hasn’t done much to solidify the return of the MLB, it has definitely gotten people talking about it.

The city that was arguably effected the most by the demise of baseball in Montreal, other than Montreal itself, was Ottawa.

Once the Lynx severed ties with the legendary Expos franchise ending a 10-year affiliation that couldn’t have been articulated any better, their own health was doomed to failure. 4 years later, the team relocated into another sublime environment – Allentown, Pennsylvania; where the now IronPigs continue to find success.

The consistencies don’t stop there either. Both the Lynx and the Expos struggled to make the postseason in their stretches, which didn’t help the success at the box office.

For many teams, winning is essential. There are very few sports organizations that can get away with constant losing. If the team in question isn’t called the Toronto Maple Leafs or the New York Yankees, they’ll have a tough time.

In Ottawa, the Lynx were extremely successful early, winning a championship in their 3rd season. However after that season, the Expos prospect pool weakened which sent the Lynx into a downward spiral.

The following is from a 2010 piece by Todd Devlin chronicling the history of baseball in Ottawa.

By 1996, the honeymoon was officially over.

To make matters worse, that year saw the tide turn on the field as well, as the Lynx plummeted in the standings. After posting a 215-211 record, along with a pair of post-season appearances and a league title during their first three years, the team proceeded to spend four of the next five seasons in the IL East basement, compiling a dismal 295-415 record (.415 winning percentage) during that span.

In 2000, the Lynx hit rock bottom, finishing with a franchise-worst 53-88 record.

A losing team will nearly always drive fans away. And that was certainly the case in Ottawa.

In the first three post-championship seasons, attendance at Lynx games saw a remarkably steady — yet significant — decline, dropping an average of 22.6% per season. In 1997, just four years after breaking a 46-year-old attendance record, the Lynx dropped to last place in the league (average crowd of 4,165 per game). Sadly, that was a distinction the team held each and every year until the franchise moved to Pennsylvania 10 years later.

It was a remarkable decline – one that didn’t stumble too far from that of their major league affiliate in Montreal.

The parallels don’t stop at the team’s on-field play either. Looking at the struggle to find a suitable owner to return a major league team to Montreal, the similar problem arose when the Ottawa group Champions of Ottawa Baseball was looking to bring a new, affiliated ball-club to Ottawa.

While the cost of renovating Ottawa Stadium was simply too much for taxpayers, another heavy issue was the lack of a local owner, or a majority investor after Nolan Ryan’s group backed out from bringing what I was told would be a Texas Rangers affiliate to the ballpark on Coventry Road.

But let’s not forget the Stadium issue as well. The unreasonable cost to bring Ottawa Stadium up to Double-A standards draws parallels with the very ballpark that Lynx players aspired to play at.

When built, the Olympic Stadium was the most costly ballpark in history. It housed the opening ceremonies of an Olympic games. At the opening of the 1976 games, Olympic Stadium was a state-of-the-art shrine to sport.

Ottawa Stadium was similar in proportion to Olympic Stadium in terms of quality, only its grand stage was the International League. During the inaugural campaign of the Ottawa Lynx, JetForm Park was the nicest ballpark in the league. It was highly regarded as a model for other ballparks to follow.

Today, however, we have seen the stock of both stadiums take a drastic dive.

Olympic Stadium is referred to by many as a white elephant that is in dire need of renovations and structural improvements, while Ottawa Stadium requires hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring it up to standard for any type of entertainment-based baseball.

Both of these cities require a facelift to be considered for the level of baseball that they are ready to endure. The only difference, which is fairly substantial, comes in the status of the two cities as a host to baseball.

Ottawa is currently in a much better situation that the former home of the Expos, with a minor league team lined up in the Can-Am League. However, with a grassroots effort already present, Montreal appears to be on its way to one day hosting baseball again.

Hopefully, both Ottawa and Montreal experience a shift in the tide and baseball will find its way back onto the front burner, just as it was 90 years ago.

Can-Am/AA merger: New opportunities emerge

American Association logo (source)

American Association logo (source)

There has been chatter over the viability of the Can-Am League in the past couple years.

Since the Worcester Tornadoes went through issues with their stadium lease and player salaries and the number of teams has dipped below the number 6, the league has been battling critics who continuously question the future of one of the longer standing independent professional baseball leagues in the world, dating back to its days as the Northeast League.

More fuel was added to the fire in late November when Miles Wolff announced the league would not operate independently in 2014, merging with the American Association.

The American Association already covered a large geographic area before the merger was announced, with teams in 3 divisions ranging from Winnipeg, Manitoba all the way down to Amarillo, Texas. Now adding the Can-Am ‘division’ to the circuit, it’s clear that the AA is the dominant indy league on the continent.

Here is a portion of the official press release from the office of Miles Wolff:

Durham, N.C. — Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball commissioner Miles Wolff announced on Wednesday that the league will play as one of four divisions in the American Association for the 2014 season. Can-Am League players will also participate in the American Association All Star Game, to be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on July 29, and interleague play between the two leagues will continue for a third season.

Four teams will make up the Can-Am League in 2014: the Quebec Capitales and Trois-Rivieres Aigles from the province of Quebec; the New Jersey (Montclair) Jackals; and the Rockland Boulders of Pomona, N.Y. The Newark Bears will not operate in 2014.

As the release mentions, the Newark Bears will not field a team in the Can-Am League next season. This is essentially the reason that the merger is taking place. Logically, it wouldn’t make sense to field a 4-team league with a 100-game schedule, so this move is the right one.

It is most likely not a bad idea to move away from affiliation with the Newark Bears organization. The team has been a staple of independent baseball since 1999, but since then has experienced a steady decline in attendance, with the average tallying as low as 453 this year and 668 in 2012.

When Ottawa baseball fans heard that they were getting an expansion franchise in the Can-Am League, I’m sure they opened up Google and did some research. At least, that’s what any knowledgeable fan would do.

The first thing that many of them saw were clearly the attendance numbers of the Bears, as the first reaction for many was “Ha! The teams in this league draw 400 people! It’s a beer league!”

Point is, it’s a good thing for Wolff and his mecca of independent baseball to not have the burden of the Newark Bears on his back.

Not only that, but it allows the focus to shift to one larger league in the form of the American Association. Wolff, as the head of both Can-Am and the AA, now has one less league to worry about for at least the 2014 season.

Personally, I hope that the Can-Am ‘division’ remains. With the addition, the American Association has become a 16-team league with clubs ranging all across the continent, becoming a large and more legitimate league.

It will also be nice to see some real competition. I can boost the Can-Am League all I want, but in the end everyone has to realize that a 5-time defending champion can’t be a positive development, of course eluding to the continued success of the Quebec Capitales.

We had seen the same thing in the IBL with the Brantford Red Sox, which also caused nothing but questions regarding the legitimacy of the league.

In a much larger league, not only will the Capitales have a tougher numbers game than in the 5-team Can-Am League, but tougher competition as well. Clubs such as the Winnipeg Goldeyes, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and Wichita Wingnuts will give them all they can handle in their hunt for the championship and it will be fun to watch Quebec face the adversity that they’ve been deprived of for a long time.

Teams having success on the field also leads to other positives, some of them off the field.

An example of that can come from the Winnipeg Goldeyes, the 2011 AA Champions. A team based in a market that the MiLB steers clear of due to its location, the Goldeyes have become one of the model franchises in not only the indy circuit, but the minor league circuit as a whole.

With an average attendance of 5,880 last season, Winnipeg ranked 28th among all MiLB/Indy/Summer Collegiate teams in North America. Also to their resume is a deal with TSN Radio, a nationally acclaimed brand, who broadcasts every single one of their games.

My friend and fellow Minor League Baseball aficionado Carlos Verde had an idea for independent baseball that has a potential to come to fruition with the merger of these two leagues. I consider it a good idea, however the Can-AM/AA bond must continue through this season for a plan to come to fruition.

There has to be revenue sharing in an indy league. There has to be, otherwise it is not a viable investment. Because so many teams are going to fall off the radar – that’s the trend right now and I think that’s the trend that we’ll follow for a while.

That’s the trend that all indy leagues follow, some teams make a lot of money and others barely keep their heads above water and that’s why they have failed.

To counteract this alarming trend, start a revenue sharing program among teams to level the playing field out so to speak and allow some financially troubled teams to catch their breath while their ownership group recovers from the initial shock of owning a professional baseball team.

I’m all for the possibility of revenue sharing among the teams in the league. This may be needed in the future for teams who are experiencing issues on the money end, are in the middle of a hefty and impractical lease, or anything on that end. Looking at successful franchises like Winnipeg and St. Paul, it could be looked at as one giant, year-long Christmas gift.

That isn’t the extent of new opportunities for the merger either.

Let’s say that the merger does continue past next season, and the Ottawa franchise is a member of the American Association. This would give the league 4 Canadian teams – in Winnipeg, Ottawa, Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City.

If you ask me, the window is open for a Canadian baseball renaissance. There are so many markets both in between Quebec and Winnipeg, including beyond those boundaries. Telus Field in Edmonton has been regarded as one of the best ballparks in Canada and it currently sits without a tenant.

Fort McMurray is also in the process of building a state of the art facility to host baseball games.

Even with the 4 existing teams involved, a tournament to determine the best of the indy Canadian teams could also be a reality – a “Canadian Indy Classic”.

At that point, you could even look at the possibility of national TV deals to cover the games – hey, it seems as though TSN will have many open slots on their schedule starting next year. The more teams the better as well – even making the addition of the IBL and WMBL champions could expand the footprint.

If Ottawa can replicate what has happened in Winnipeg, I’m not sure that Ottawa Stadium will look so empty. With a recent rebrand, Ottawa already has a TSN radio station, plus a Rogers station in the form of 1310News. One of those two stations broadcasting games would do wonders for the legitimacy of the team.

A winning franchise and good marketing is always helpful as well. The partnership that the Fat Cats had established with the Ottawa 67’s is one that the new franchise should seek to continue. Now, this may be a little tougher with OSEG’s other entities going head to head with the baseball season, however if possible I’d love to see some cross-promotion.

Whatever happens, the potential for independent baseball in Ottawa is still around – whether the team’s first pitch comes in the Can-Am League or the American Association is just a minor detail with the initialization of some strategy.

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