For quite some time now, the nation’s capital has, apparently, been positively dying for some kind of baseball connection to the club that plays here in centre of the universe. It makes sense– knowing nothing about Ottawa, I’m gonna go ahead and say that it’s probably the only way that minor league ball is tenable in the city– and now, it might actually be a step closer. Like, for reals this time.
At least, that’s if the Ottawa Citizen is to be believed, as Don Campbell lays this on us, regarding the upcoming decision as to what to do with Ottawa Stadium, former home of the Lynx, which Ottawa city council is slated to do when it convenes in Septemer:
Just short of six weeks from the Aug. 8 deadline for submitting bids, Ballpark Digest reported and a local source confirmed Thursday that Mandalay Sports Properties has prepared a bid for the stadium that would include Rogers Communications, owner of Toronto’s Major League Baseball franchise, with partner Professional Sports Catering assisting in a total re-configuration of the stadium. That would allow for a Double-A Eastern League franchise to re-locate to Ottawa in time for Opening Day 2015.
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That sound you hear is hearts breaking in Ottawa…
Or perhaps it’s actually the sound of money being flushed down the toilet. John Lott of the National Post explains that ”City council has approved $5.7-million in renovations to Ottawa Stadium, former home of the Lynx, a Triple-A team. A community group campaigned to bring the Jays to town and recruited 3,102 season-ticket deposits for next season, even though the nation’s capital still has no team.”
He adds that the nation’s capital may still land a Double-A team, but without a Blue Jays affiliation, it’s hard to imagine it being anything close to the kind of success it could have been as the Jays’ affiliate.
One might think that the group trying to bring Jays-related baseball there could turn their attention to the Triple-A International League, which could be home to the Jays farm club in 2013, as their PDC with Las Vegas expires after this season, but I think that horse may have already left the barn. Even if Ottawa could upgrade their facilities to Triple-A calibre, rumor has it– as Lott also passes along– that the Jays are going to try and get into Buffalo, as the Bisons’ deal with the Mets expires after this season as well. Of course, that’s where they wanted to end up when they left Syracuse, too, and that didn’t exactly go as planned…
Image via Sportslogos.net.
Is it a New Hampshire dick-slap of cockiness on the part of the group trying to bring Jays-affiliated Eastern League baseball to Ottawa, or another where there’s smoke there’s fire sign that maybe something is going on with the Jays and the nation’s capital? I have no idea, but apparently Beacon Sports, the Boston company who are trying to bring double-A baseball to the city, says that Ottawa’s refurbished stadium will have an artificial turf playing surface.
According to Ken Gray of the Ottawa Citizen, the company’s chief financial officer, Gerald Sheehan, tells him that the call on what surface a minor league stadium uses belongs to the affiliate’s Major League parent, and that teams generally want their prospects playing on the same kind of surface as the big club.
And as we all are too painfully aware of, the Jays are one of just two MLB teams still playing on shit-ass looking turf.
Interesting. Though you kinda get the sense that this is just desperation from the Ottawa group, going all-in to woo the lone MLB affiliation they know can make their venture a success.
On the other hand, while MLB rules prohibit clubs from approaching another team’s affiliate while their player development contract is in effect, but maybe the Jays are within their right to speak to Beacon, while the group works to get their hands on an Eastern League team– supposedly the Binghamton Mets– to move. I have no idea. But there sure is a lot of smoke…
In both the Manchester Union Leader and at his personal Gray Matter blog, Kevin Gray throws some cold water on the notion of the Jays Double-A affiliate landing in Ottawa after the 2012 season, though… it’s kind of an exercise in non-denial denials.
“The Blue Jays have a great relationship with New Hampshire. The only way the Blue Jays would ever leave New Hampshire — and nobody, absolutely nobody has talked with Toronto about this happening — would be if another team agreed to come here,” said Fisher Cats president Rick Brenner, apparently ignoring the rumour that Ottawa is working on purchasing the Binghamton Mets. “It would have to be a win-win situation for everyone.”
“The Fisher Cats will remain in New Hampshire,” Gray writes, “whether they are aligned with the Blue Jays, Twins, Rays or another team. And Ottawa is a long way from landing a team.”
On his blog he tosses in some speculation. “If I had to venture a guess,” he writes, “I’d say they’ll extend the PDC for another two years with an announcement this spring or summer.”
“Charlie Wilson, Toronto’s director of minor league operations, has told me the Blue Jays want to stay in Manchester as long as possible,” he adds, “saying the club’s relationship with NH is ‘amazing.’ ”
So… they’re saying all the things they’re supposed to say, but there’s not a whole lot that really indicates that the Jays won’t be switching affiliations this summer. Which, of course, isn’t to say that they will. But it’s a no-brainer, given the club’s national marketing strategy and their wildly successful affiliation with the Vancouver Canadians, that if the option is there, the Jays will want to be in the nation’s capital. Total no-brainer.