My hometown is Ottawa Ontario, or as Neil Young recently sang, “I was born in Ontario” It’s the nation’s capital, the second coldest capital in the world and home to the longest outdoor skating rink in the world.
It’s also home to the Ottawa Senators, a future CFL team and a soccer team.
Many teams have come and gone in this city. The Ottawa Nationals, Rough Riders and Lynx just to name a few.
I wanted to share this article from the Ottawa Citizen yesterday:
Heavy hitters back new baseball bid
Partners plan to ‘reinvent’ Ottawa Stadium as sports and entertainment hub
By Don Campbell, OTTAWA CITIZEN
Two of the biggest and most powerful corporate players in all of minor league professional baseball, including one that already owns an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, are poised to bring pro baseball back to the capital.
The Citizen has learned Mandalay Sports Entertainment and Professional Sports Catering, who already jointly own and/or operate several minor league teams at various levels throughout the United States, are working with Ottawa mayor Jim Watson’s office on a deal to completely renovate and operate Ottawa Stadium while bringing an existing Double-A Eastern League franchise to Ottawa.
Mandalay already owns the Eastern League’s Erie Sea Wolves in Pennsylvania, making that franchise the obvious choice to re-locate to Ottawa, possibly as early as 2014. That’s if a deal can be reached in short order for a complete overhaul of the stadium, long in need of a retrofit.
Professional baseball sources say the partners will “reinvent” the stadium as a sports and entertainment hub.
Industry insiders are cautious on Ottawa after a previous deal to bring the Eastern League’s Binghamton Mets collapsed at the final hour.
A Texas-based businessman who had joined forces with the Ryan Sports and Entertainment Group — headed by the sons of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan — pulled out days before taking an agreement to pro baseball’s annual winter meetings in Nashville for final approval in December.
“We are down to the short strokes,” said Beacon COO Richard Billings, who wouldn’t confirm the identity of the players but has made Ottawa a second home for two years while trying to broker the sale of an existing Eastern League franchise to an owner willing to re-locate here.
“The people who would make this happen are true professionals in the business of professional baseball.”
Professional Sports Catering is a full service food and beverage company that focuses exclusively on minor league baseball.
The first team they bought was the Michigan-based Lansing Lugnuts, a Class A Blue Jays affiliate, back in 1996.
Dissatisfied with their ballpark’s concessionaires, owners Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers took control of that aspect five years after buying the team. In 2005, they founded PSC.
In 2011, PSC announced a joint venture partnership with Mandalay Baseball Properties, whereby PSC maintained majority ownership and management of the company, with Mandalay contributing its management expertise and experience in minor league baseball.
Today, PSC is the fastest-growing concessionaire in baseball.
The company also owns minor league teams in Montgomery, Ala., South Bend, Ind., and Davenport, Iowa, and helps manage franchises in Tulsa, Okla., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Peoria, Ill., Asheville, N.C., Geneva, Ill., Laredo, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, State College, Pa., and Erie.
Mandalay, for its part, also owns the Single-A Dayton Dragons, a Cincinnati Reds affiliate in the Midwest League, the Double-A Texas Rangers affiliate Frisco Roughriders in the Texas League and the Houston Astros Triple-A affiliate Oklahoma City RedHawks in the Pacific Coast League.
Among the teams MSE manages are the highly successful Single-A Staten Island Yankees, who play in the New York-Penn League, and the Triple-A International League’s Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, both affiliates of the New York Yankees.
So, the two players are big in the business, but at present, the ownership group does not boast anyone with local ties.
The two ownership partners visited Ottawa recently to meet with Jim Watson and members of his staff to spell out the need for improvements to 20-year-old Ottawa Stadium in order to bring it back to industry standards.
The city long ago pledged upwards of $5 million in improvements and repairs to the stadium if a suitable ownership group could be found. It’s believed Mandalay would like to see the city invest even more in a stadium that once housed the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx, who began play in 1993 under the ownership of local sportsman Howard Darwin and set minor league attendance records.
The Champions for Ottawa Baseball, a local group of volunteers trying to raise awareness and interest for the return of pro baseball to the capital, has also ramped up its pursuit of a team.
I can’t wait for this to happen. Pretty exciting times in Ottawa.