Ottawa business group makes pitch for baseball stadium
BY PATRICK DARE AND DON CAMPBELL , THE OTTAWA CITIZENAUGUST 24, 2009 6:01 PMBE THE FIRST TO POST A COMMENT
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David Butler, chief executive of Ottawa Trolley Company and representing Ottawa Stadium Group, accompanied by Councillor Bob Monette, rivht, and little leaguers and parents talk to the media prior to the delivery of OSG's executive summary and offer to lease for the Ottawa Stadium to the City of Ottawa.
Photograph by: Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — With a heartfelt rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game and a few throws on the grass at City Hall, a business partnership on Monday made a first pitch to Ottawa Council to get control of the city's empty professional baseball stadium.
David Butler, chief executive officer of Bytown Trolley Company, arrived on one of his vehicles with a group of singing Little League players. Butler was delivering a proposal to the city to take over the empty stadium on Coventry Road and have it used for both Can-Am baseball and amateur play, concerts and festivals, as well as space for businesses.
The stadium is considered a superb baseball venue and was home to the Ottawa Lynx from 1993-2007. The club saw large crowds to its 10,000-seat stadium in the early years but attendance fell off sharply in later years.
The Can-Am league had planned to operate a franchise in Ottawa this season — the Ottawa Voyageurs — but instead it pulled the plug eight weeks before the start of the season.
Butler didn't divulge many details of his proposal but said that the stadium needs a variety of uses through the year to be a successful operation. One of his plans is to install awnings over part of the seating to provide shelter from rain and sun.
Butler arrived with a partner, Duncan MacDonald, but said he has other partners for the venture who don't wish to be identified yet.
Buying a Can-Am franchise, should one become available, would cost the group $750,000 U.S.
Orléans Councillor Bob Monette said he was pleased to help deliver the pitch because he's been frustrated that such an expensive venue sits empty and not maintained.
“The last thing we want to see is another year of an empty stadium,” said Monette. He said that if the business group, called Ottawa Stadium Group, is able to get a professional baseball franchise for the city, the team would get crowds in the range of 2,000 to 3,000.
MacDonald said the Ottawa Stadium Group is looking for a long-term deal to make it a worthwhile proposition and build a fan base for a new team.
“It's a state-of-the-art facility in Canada's capital city. It would be a shame to knock it down,” said MacDonald.
Rick O'Connor, the city's solicitor and clerk, accepted the bid proposal on behalf of city manager Kent Kirkpatrick. O'Connor said he expects other proposals because several groups have expressed an interest in the stadium. He said the city would likely reach a decision by the end of the year.
Cam-Am League commissioner Miles Wolff said he remains optimistic his league will return to Ottawa but says the league needs to know by early October if Ottawa figures in the plans for 2010.
He said he has been in contact and had meaningful discussions with several interested parties in bringing pro baseball back to Ottawa and that Ottawa Stadium Group was merely one of those groups and not necessarily a front-runner.
Wolff said he was disappointed Ottawa Stadium went unused all season.
"The Can-Am League had turned back the keys for the facility to the city in April," said Wolff. "The league had hoped that the park could be used for baseball this summer.
"But liability and other legal issues made it impossible for either the city or the league to reopen it this year."
While there is currently no Can-Am franchise in the city, Wolff is paying $108,000 in rent per season to the city.
Monette said baseball weather isn't over yet and there may be some kind of arrangement worked out in the next few days to “get somebody on the field.”
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and a CBC article...