Baseball can work in Ottawa: Hall CEO

TREVOR BUNKE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:17 PM ET

The owners of the Fat Cats — Ottawa Stadium Group — have a friend in Tom Valcke ... one who knows what he’s talking about.

When Valcke, the president and CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys, read about the city report that stated pro baseball isn’t viable long-term in the capital, he knew he had to weigh in.

So Valcke got on his keyboard and wrote a 1,400-word open letter — a letter he said was four times longer than that on his first go-around — to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson stating his disappointment and to “set the record straight” on a number of points.

Valcke did, however, applaud Watson “for pulling back the reins in order for all interested parties to exhale and take a broader look at the whole situation” before a final decision is made on the stadium.

“Ottawa Stadium is special to me,” Valcke told the Ottawa Sun. “I’ve seen many baseball stadiums and it is one of the top five I’ve been in, excluding major-league ballparks. When it was built, they built it right.

“If they aren’t playing baseball there, it would be a crime. I was running Baseball Canada when building the stadium was being discussed and I remember going to city council a half-dozen times or so to (pitch the merits of building it).”

In his letter, Valcke agrees “Triple-A and Double-A baseball are not good fits for Ottawa. While the honeymoon of the Lynx was incredible back in the early 1990s, Ottawa proved to be too diverse in its entertainment interest to support professional baseball 71 nights in its short summer, particularly on frigid evenings in April and May.”

He goes on to state a Single-A franchise would be good for the city because the franchise would “play its games in June, July and August.”

The city report made reference to “an overall decline of baseball in Canada,” a reference that annoyed Valcke.

He notes in his letter there are 16 Canadians on major league rosters to start the 2011 season and Toronto’s Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds is the defending National League MVP.

Erik Bedard, from Navan, pitches for the Seattle Mariners.

Valcke also makes two interesting points in his letter: There are 1.5 million Canadians involved in amateur baseball and there are more Canadians on baseball scholarships in the U.S. than there are on hockey scholarships.

The thought of Ottawa Stadium being torn down and replaced by condos or shops doesn’t sit well with Valcke.

“If they whack it for a one-time cash grab ... that would be a disgusting proposition,” said Valcke.


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