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Keep baseball in Ottawa

Big Wooly Mammoth

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This is from the Team 1200:


The future of pro baseball, ANY pro baseball, has reached a crucial stage. If you care about the future of baseball and Lynx stadium, read this letter from the Can-Am League and take appropriate action.

Ottawa is about to lose professional baseball after fifteen years in the city. It shouldn’t happen. It doesn’t need to happen. But it probably will, because a combination of city officials, lawyers, and others are making what should be a simple transition from the International League to the Can-Am League very difficult. Ottawa has the best baseball facility in all of Canada, and it could be showplace for not only the Can-Am League but also the national teams of Baseball Canada, but it will be either transformed or torn down in the next year if common sense does not prevail.

Background. After wildly successful years following the opening of Lynx Stadium in 1993, attendance fell, and in recent years the team has lost money. A combination of poor early operations, losing teams, an excessive schedule and other factors cause the decline, and over the last few years Lynx management has been looking to sell the franchise. A new $40 million stadium is being built in Allentown, PA, and the team has been sold and is moving to that city for the 2008 season.

Lease. The original lease was signed in 1992 by Howard Darwin and was amended in 2000 when the Lynx were bought by Vermont businessman Ray Pecor. The lease runs through the 2009 season. There is a $216,000 penalty to Pecor if he does not operate in 2008 and 2009. However, the lease also stipulates that the Lynx still owe on a promissory note of $2,777,000. According to the Lynx this is interest on the initial stadium construction cost. To build the stadium the city of Ottawa borrowed from the city of Nepean. The principal has been paid off, but this remaining interest is owed to city of Nepean. However, with the fusion of the two cities, the Lynx believe that there is no interest due by the city of Ottawa to Nepean because it would now owe the money to itself.

The Lawsuits. The Lynx have instituted a lawsuit of $10 million against the city of Ottawa because of the parking issue and other portions of the lease not fulfilled. In a meeting in April with the Mayor and City attorney, the Lynx, represented by Ray Pecor and Kyle Bostwick, promised to drop the lawsuit immediately if the city dropped their claim of $2,770,000 for the promissory note. The Can-Am League was present at that meeting to state that they were ready to take over the Lynx’s lease and fulfilling all obligations of the lease other than the promissory note. It is unclear whose position is stronger, but it is certain that if the legal proceedings continue, they will go on for years and legal fees could be half a million dollars and more. The only winners will be the lawyers.

The Can-Am League. The Can-Am League is an independent professional league located in the Northeast U.S. and Québec City. It plays a 94 game schedule, and most baseball observers rate the league as closest to Class AA in affiliated baseball. The league believes it can be very successful in Ottawa for several reasons: (1). the league schedule does not start until late May, cutting out the April and early May dates that killed the Lynx. (2). league members sign their own players, and the emphasis would be on area and Canadian professionals that fans can identify with. (3). the budget for the Can-Am League is considerably less than for the International League. Independent baseball has been very successful in Winnipeg and Québec, and Ottawa, a larger market than either of these cities with a better stadium, should be an equivalent draw.

Baseball Canada. The Can-Am league has had considerable discussions with Baseball Canada about making the Lynx Stadium their home. Offices would be moved to the stadium, and Baseball Canada, without a current home field, would be able to make the stadium their home field. International events and tournaments could be held at the facility, and the stadium would be the centre for baseball in Canada.

Timing. There is little time left to make any of this happen. All of this was proposed in April in order to make for a smooth transition over the summer. Now, time is almost out. The Can-Am League schedule needs to be completed in October. The lawsuit of the Lynx is moving forward. Employees of the Lynx who were ready to work for the Can-Am are looking for other jobs. The Lynx own nearly $1 million in assets in the stadium (concession equipment, furniture for 32 suites, press box equipment, office desks and equipment, ticketing system, etc.). The Lynx have offered this equipment to the Can-Am League free of charge. However, if the lawsuit continues, the Lynx will begin selling off their assets, and it will be almost financially impossible for any baseball club to up-fit a stadium if all the equipment is gone.

Cost. If the Can-Am League is allowed to assume the lease, the cost to the city is nothing. Baseball will continue. However, currently the city is insisting that the Lynx must formally notify them that they are leaving before they can act. The Lynx are prepared to notify the city if the city will assure them that the interest payments are no longer due. The city will not make these assurances. Therefore, the stalemate will drag on, and it will be April when the first game should be scheduled before the Lynx are officially in violation of their lease. In the meantime, no one will occupy the stadium during the winter, and unless the city is prepared to assume these costs, the stadium will deteriorate over this period. The equipment will be gone; there will be no tenant in 2008. Regardless of proposals for domes or other uses, the most likely scenario is that the city will tear down the stadium and a jewel for any municipality will be lost.


So folks, please call or email your city counselors if you would like to see baseball stay in Ottawa. There is no excuse for the city not to come to terms with the Lynx on this one. With a new team they'd be getting revenue from the new lease. And the Lynx have a strong case against the city about the parking.

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I sent an email to my city counselor yesterday. I’ll send one to Mayor Larry No’brain (my daughter and her Grade 3 friends in school came up with that during last years election) as well later today.

Here are some other relevant links:

Lynx Blog - Lots of good info here, including links to ridiculous pro-bulldozing articles in the Ottawa Business Journal

Facebook Group

Settling this issue with the Lynx just makes so much sense. I can’t believe that not all of the counselors are supporting that. I guess that’s what happens when you have a mayor who can’t get the city council to work together effectively. Then again, the mayor probably has his own agenda, like having his developer buddies turn Lynx Stadium into a dome soccer facility at the expense of the city ($40 million).

If they settle the issues, we’ll still have a baseball team in Ottawa. The Can-Am league has a team in Quebec City, and will have a team in Montreal for the 2009 season creating natural rivalries. Baseball Canada will have a home stadium to showcase the team and play exhibition games. Oh ya, this is also the best baseball stadium in the country.

Why is there even a debate about this?

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Check out this email exchange that I just had with one of Ottawa's city councilors. The original email was sent from me to the entire council.

I am amazed that someone like him could be that unprofessional. I've replaced his actual name below with "city councilor." This all took place in the last 2 hours. (it's in reverse order)


Considering that the Lynx are suing the city for $10 million (and I believe have a strong case), writing off the $2.8 million makes a lot of sense as the Lynx will drop their lawsuit. If both lawsuits are successful the city will lose over $7 million on top of all of the legal bills and the lease money that the Can-Am league team will pay the city.

I guess that math was a bit beyond your capabilities.

You are a city councilor?



I do not think any action has been launched about that note. But you want us to write off $2,777,000 so you and a few others can watch baseball?


City councilor


Dear Mr. City Councilor,

I believe that the city has a claim against the Ottawa Lynx regarding a promissory note of $2,777,000. The situation with respect to the Lynx and Baseball in Ottawa has been well documented. It has been covered in the Ottawa Citizen (including an editorial on September 17, 2007) and web sites such as http://ottawalynxblog.com/. I garnered my information from those sources and a letter written by Miles Wolff which was reprinted at that site as well as the following site: http://tgornation.blogspot.com/2007/09/ottawa-baseball-puzzle.html.

If I have been misinformed, I trust that you will be able to give me the correct information.

I must also note that I found your response to my email to be rather unprofessional.

I look forward to hearing from you.




The city is suing the Lynx? That's news to me. What is the suit about?

City councilor



I am a resident of Ottawa and a baseball fan. Since moving to Ottawa in 2001, I have been regularly attending Lynx games with my children who are now 9 and 5 years old. While we were all very sad to see the Lynx leave town, the prospect of having a Can-Am team is very exciting. It would be very sad if the city of Ottawa let down their citizens by not coming to terms with the Lynx and the Can-Am league. I sincerely hope that our city council can make the right decision and drop the current lawsuit against the Lynx as it is my understanding that the Lynx will also drop their lawsuit and leave all their equipment for the new team. A new team means continuing revenue for the city and continued enjoyment for the families that enjoy going to baseball games. In addition having a stadium that the Canadian baseball team could call home would be a huge benefit for the city. I along with many other, including many children, are hoping to hear good news in the next few days about the future of baseball in Ottawa. Please don't let us, and all the taxpayers of this city, down.



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One, two, three strikes and the Lynx are out, but another saviour for baseball in Ottawa might be set to step up to the plate.

The Triple-A Lynx have all but officially given notice to the city that they don't intend to return next season.

However, the head of the Can-Am Association of Professional Baseball hopes to bring a franchise to Ottawa with investors that could include the likes of Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.

League commissioner Miles Wolff was in town yesterday speaking with city officials about the possibility of leasing Lynx Stadium.

"This is a great stadium and a great city. We can make a go of it," said Wolff, who is from North Carolina and owns a team that plays out of Quebec City.


Wolff said the league is prepared to schedule an Ottawa team for next year's lineup, but there are a few hurdles, including leases and lawsuits, to negotiate first.

The Lynx lease isn't up until 2009 and if the franchise leaves before that date, the city can penalize the club almost $3 million for lost revenue. The Lynx, meanwhile, have launched an $11-million lawsuit against the city, claiming it didn't honour some of the guarantees it negotiated to help the team stay in Ottawa.

City lawyer Rick O'Connor said the city is still awaiting word from the Lynx about their status.

"We fully expect them to honour their agreement," said O'Connor.

Wolff is also working on putting a team in Montreal by 2009.

"With a team in Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa there is the potential to create great rivalries," he said.

Innes Coun. Rainer Bloess said the city and the Lynx must resolve their legal impasse before fans will see another team in Ottawa.

"Right now, we are in limbo," said Bloess. "It's the limbo that is hurting the city and any opportunity out there."

Wolff said a Can-Am franchise could survive financially in the nation's capital when the Lynx couldn't because overhead costs in his league are much lower.

But lower club costs don't mean a lower standard of ball, he said. Games in the independent Can-Am league can be more exciting than Triple-A ball, said Wolff, because it's players' last opportunity to show they've got what it takes to make it to the big leagues.

"There will be lots of intensity," he said.

The Can-Am league's season is also shorter, lasting from the end of May to Labour Day, and the average player's salary of about $1,500 a month allows for cheaper operating costs. Triple-A baseball starts in April, when weather can be unpredictable.

"When it's cold and miserable, it's not a fun experience," said Wolff.

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I am forwarding this exchange to a reporter here at the Sun if no one objects......

I have forwarded the emails to the Citizen.

I'd like to expose the fact that there are 2 Alan D.'s here.

Actually there's just one of us, but we've got multiple personalities. We're actually about 20 people on this board :crazy:

no harm in exposing the person here i bet. i'd want to know if that ass was representing me as well.

I didn't want to name him due to legal concerns. He's the councilor for Knoxdale-Merivale.

I just received this from him a few minutes ago:

That would be true if the Lynx case had any merit. It doesn't. I guess you are not a lawyer.

You might ask Wolff why he does not just take over the Lynx' lease.

Don't you get the feeling that Pecor may be just using Wolff and you baseball fans to get himself off the hook?

Gord Hunter

Nope, he's right. I'm not a lawyer. But what if I was? I also must admit that I have not read the Lynx’s Statement of Claim against the city. I’m not even sure that it’s a public document. I guess if I was a lawyer I would know that info. Hey, he’s not a lawyer either. How about that!

I do know that the Lynx are claiming that the city breached their lease by removing many of their parking spaces. A convention centre was built next door. I also know that on those rare occasions when the Lynx get a crowd over 5000, that the traffic situation was a mess due to the lack of parking (there were lineups stretching to the 417 off-ramps). While I don’t have the hard evidence, I do believe that this lack of parking contributed to the team’s demise. I would imagine that some borderline baseball fan, after experiencing a one hour plus wait in traffic just to park, would choose to not bother going to any more games. I’ll go out on a limb and claim that the lack of parking thus contributed to a decreased attendance which eventually led to the team packing up and moving away

There are updates being posted here and here about the situation.

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I think that's a stretch.

Its not at all and I am willing to bet that is a huge reason why crowds first started to stay away. Hux, you only started going around the time we did. That stadium was almost always empty. You could leave your place 15 minutes before game time, park your car, get a ticket, grab a beer and a dog and be seated in time for the bottom half of the first.

We went to the last game and it was the only time I saw the place with over 4 thousand people. It was a nightmare getting into the place (and we left pretty early knowing it was going to be bad). We parked at the train station because I knew we were going to miss a ton of the game if we hadnt. During the 5th inning, there was still a long line of people buying tickets to get into the stadium.

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The last game was the worst I had ever seen the traffic situation and the ticket lineup. But it was not the first time that I had seen traffic like that. I actually experienced that on several occasions since 2002 (when I first started going to games). I can definitely remember three other occasions - usually on long weekends. I remember them by where I parked - once across the street at a gov’t building, once at Canadian Tire, and then when I finally caught on I started to park on the street a few blocks away rather than waiting an hour in my car to pay for parking.

I did not say it was the only reason, but that it *contributed*, to the team’s demise.

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We went to the last game and it was the only time I saw the place with over 4 thousand people.

Yeah, exactly my point. When has lack of parking ever been a problem in the last several years? (I started going to games in '98 and never once saw a full lot)

I am willing to bet that is a huge reason why crowds first started to stay away.

I'd take you up on that bet I think. Bottom line -their failure was due to fairweather fans. When your attendance is the worst in the league and on average you draw 2000 less fans per game than the team with the next worst attendance in the league speaks to deeper issues than not enough parking a coulpe games per year (tops).

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