The owner of the Ottawa Fat Cats and two city councillors are teaming up to bring professional baseball back to the capital as early as 2013.
The Ottawa Stadium Group also says it’s optimistic the ballpark will be saved despite the city exploring other uses for its property.
“The success of the newly coined Save Our Stadium (SOS) consortium will all but ensure continuation of the use of Ottawa Stadium for amateur, semi-pro, and professional baseball, as well as other multi-purpose community uses,” the group said in a release on Monday.
It also said discussions are continuing with potential investors and pro leagues.
The announcement came after a meeting with Orleans Coun. Bob Monette and College Coun. Rick Chiarelli, who have agreed to work toward securing a pro team.
Monette pointed out the popularity of the semi-pro Fat Cats last year, their inaugural season in the Intercounty Baseball League.
The Fat Cats averaged 2,320 fans per home date, shattering the IBL attendance record. The team announced last month it had already sold 4,200 season tickets for this year.
“We need affordable family entertainment in the summer months and the record crowds to Fat Cats games last year is proof the return of professional baseball in Ottawa will be supported for many years to come” Monette said.
Chiarelli said the stadium is second only to the Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays.
“And if we are successful in securing a professional team that happened to be affiliated with the Blue Jays, it will only improve the popularity of the sport and sustainability of the franchise,” said Chiarelli.
“We have a lot of work to do at committee and with city council, but we are very motivated to assemble a ‘best-use’ scenario to ensure we, as a community, utilize a fantastic city asset and state-of-the-art facility.”
The stadium was built to house the Triple-A Lynx, who left in 2007. The Rapidz of the Can-Am League moved in the following year, but lasted just one season.
Meanwhile, the Fat Cats are gearing up for their home opener May 21 against the Kitchener Panthers.
Fans can sign a petition supporting the stadium throughout the season at the ballpark.