Two groups hoping to bring professional baseball back to Ottawa will have to wait until Feb. 1 to find out who’ll get to lease the city’s baseball stadium on Coventry Rd., but by then it could be too late.
Yesterday, the city’s corporate service and economic development committee approved a process to request and evaluate lease deals that would have a professional baseball team in time for the 2010 season in May.
Ottawa Trolley Company chief executive David Butler partnered with Duncan MacDonald and other community members to form the Ottawa Stadium Group. If they are awarded the lease, OSG would bring a new franchise from the San Ramon, California-based Golden Baseball League. Ottawa would join Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton as Canadian cities with GBL franchises.
However, the OSG had been hoping a decision on the lease would be made by Jan. 1 at the latest.
“We’re ready to move forward now. We have all the elements of our programming already in place,” said Butler.
MacDonald said it was possible that the decision on the lease would come too late. “What credible league is going to wait that long for a new franchise?”
The other group, Ottawa Professional Baseball, led by league commissioner Miles Wolff, would bring a Can-Am league franchise back to the city. Ottawa Pro was a partner with the Ottawa Rapidz franchise that folded after its inaugural season in 2008. They had hoped to field a team under the name Ottawa Voyageurs in 2009, but that didn’t happen.
The deadline was set for Feb. 1 in order to give any other interested group an opportunity to put a proposal together.
Claridge Homes vice-president Neil Malhotra had expressed interest in having a professional soccer team to the stadium, but since that plan would have required significant work to prepare the field and would not likely have been ready to play in 2010, the committee chose not to explore that as a short-term option.
Feb 1. is a tight deadline, but Orleans Coun. Bob Monnette said there is enough support in the community that any group could make it work in time for the start of the season.