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.

 

    • Michael Gauthier
    • July 17th, 2014

    Excellent points Michael! I hope some one is listening!

    • Duncan MacDonald, former President and General Manager, Fat Cats
    • June 5th, 2015

    Mike,
    Your point is well taken. This club had months to plan a transportation solution and a parking solution. Perhaps ownership didn’t realize that if they get 7,000 fans (as the Fat Cats did in the 2011 Finals), where will everyone park? Very poor planning on management. And now the PED bridge is closing for 3 years so transit riders are snafued from using the transitway. WTF? Fans need to get to the ball park with ease – and this is why we had OC Transpo honor our game tickets on any bus for free transportation to St. Laurent Mall and shuttled them to the park from there. Worked great. Again, poor planning on management not to have a solution.

    And the preliminary marketing is horrible and missed the target. The in-bowl entertainment is very lame. No exciting promotions, online ticket buying incentives or offers. The result of this “hope & pray” strategy delivered crowds thus far in June that have been absolutely dismal. Worst attendance totals ever at Ottawa Stadium. Again, a result of the same stale marketing and promotional schemes by Mr. Wolff (and his team of inexperienced baseball people) producing the same old results. When you fail to plan, plan to fail – again. This will be CAN-AM failure #3.

    Perhaps this is the result the city wanted all along?! Too bad citizens and baseball fans will be told by the city that baseball cant survive in the Capital and the stadium will have to be knocked down for condos on the LRT line. How convenient. Fat Cats made it work with 20 home games and 90 other community events. Hopefully the Mayor will wear the can on this fiasco.

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