Catching Up: Part 2 – The Stadium
In the 1st part of my series called Catching Up, we talked about the on-field performance of the Fat Cats, and how Ottawa’s newest players are fitting in. Now we move to Part 2, the final part of Catching Up, in which I will take things off of the field.
When the Ottawa Lynx were granted an expansion franchise into the International League of the MiLB, they needed a baseball stadium. To solve that problem, Ottawa Stadium was built. In 1993, the stadium opened and it was arguably the nicest baseball stadium in Canada. It continued to hold that title until just recently.
After AAA Ball left the Stadium, the condition of said stadium began to deteriorate. It wasn’t terrible while the Rapidz occupied it, but things were noticeably worse off than they had been in the past.
Things started to take a turn for the worst after the Rapidz left. The Stadium almost went an entire year without being properly maintained. Before a group of City Councillors stepped up to bring the Stadium back into acceptable condition, weeds almost 2 feet tall were growing in the outfield of the ballpark.
When the Fat Cats came into existence last summer, the Stadium was taken care of, but not as ‘well’ as it was when Pro Ball was occupying it. The washrooms stink, there are dry patches of grass in the outfield, the sound system needs updating and the Merch shop needs renovating. This is understandable, but now because of below average overall care, the Stadium’s overall condition is starting to deteriorate due to the maintenance problems.
Our Scoreboard also needs repairing. Unless things have changed since the games against Burlington last weekend, the analog scoreboard of Ottawa Stadium is broken, and the screen where the batter’s name, number and position usually flashes, is doubling as a score clock. I would say that it needs repairing, but what Ottawa Stadium really needs, is a new board. This may be something worth investing in. If not, at least fix the screen that’s doubling as a score clock. I can’t even read the “Due Up” screen anymore.
Now, I’m not sure who is responsible for the general condition of the Stadium. If it’s the team, then they should put a lot more effort into the care of the Stadium. Just look at the New York Islanders. Their arena is one of the worst in the NHL, and many blame the arena on attendance issues. I don’t want Ottawa Stadium to be a push factor; something that will drive people away from coming to watch baseball.
If the city is responsible (which I believe they are), then they need a dose of reality. There are some Councillors that know that baseball is alive and well in Ottawa, but many of them believe otherwise. Any Councillor who believes that baseball is done here has to look into the situation a littler further. The Fat Cats draw over 2,000 fans regularly, which is more than the AAA Lynx did in their last few seasons. This team isn’t even a pro team, yet we’re still outdrawing the Indy Leagues. Ignorance seems to be at a low price when it comes to baseball in Ottawa, which really shoves me off the track sometimes.
If the city can step up and help baseball here, that would be great. I know that all the issues that surround Ottawa Stadium can’t be fixed by just the Fat Cats. I say, we should put pressure on the city to help the ‘Cats freshen up the Stadium. New board, some renovations to areas that are frequently occupied (Merch store, Canteen, Luxury boxes) and a new Sound System. I’m not sure how much this would cost, but if the city is willing to put money into Landsdowne Park, then they should be able to do the same for the best outdoor sports facility in Ottawa.