This story originally posted in the Ottawa Citizen on Aug 15, 2011 by Ken Gray:
Negotiations are moving ahead very quickly on Ottawa obtaining a Double-A minor pro baseball franchise by either 2013 or 2014.
A large U.S. investment banking company representing a Double-A franchise met with city staff, College Councillor Rick Chiarelli, and representatives of Mayor Jim Watson’s office recently at Ottawa City Hall and Chiarelli said he was surprised and pleased with the progress made at the meeting.
Chiarelli said Watson is “cooperative in finding a suitable tenant” for the 10,000-seat Ottawa Stadium on Coventry Road.
The ownership of the franchise is still to be determined. One Toronto interest and a U.S. party have expressed interest in being majority owners of the new team, partnering with the local candidates. However, the local bidders might simply run the team alone, Chiarelli said, because they have substantial financial resources.
The parties to the negotiations recently attended an Ottawa Fat Cats game and were pleased to see large crowds at the semi-pro Intercounty Baseball League games. That bodes well for attendance at the much higher level Double A games. All parties have expressed interest in affiliating with the Toronto Blue Jays farm system.
The Jays are unable to comment on the negotiations for fear of breaking tampering rules though Chiarelli said Toronto officials are very aware of the superb facility in Ottawa. In the past, Blue Jay officials have said they are interested in the general concept of bringing minor-league baseball back to Canada and Ottawa has the best facility in Canada for that. Already, the Jays have moved their Single-A affiliation to Vancouver. Double A is the second highest level of minor league baseball and is the place where star prospects are nurtured for Major League Baseball careers.
“There is a high likelihood there will be a competitive offer to locate a team here and use the stadium,” Chiarelli said Monday.
Chiarelli expects the city will hold a competitive bidding process to use the stadium.
Think of what this could do to help pump some blood into youth baseball registration. This coupled with East Nepean hosting the 2015 Canadian Little League Championships and the Blue Jays on the upswing and a possible All Star in Canadian Brett Lawrie, will all help towards generating interest in baseball for the youth of Ottawa.