Ottawa Up For Grabs?

The Ottawa City Council has made official its interest in luring affiliated baseball back to town and government officials have said that a Double-A team has expressed interest in relocating to Ottawa Stadium.

City officials voted unanimously to explore finding a full-time tenant to lease out the ballpark that hosted a Triple-A International League team from 1993-2007.

The identity of the mystery team—or if it even exists—interested in heading north of the border remains unclear.

As was the case when the Richmond market opened up two years ago, the Erie Sea Wolves and Binghamton Mets are rumored to be interested in relocating. However, both teams, which ranked at the bottom of Eastern League attendance this season, have denied any involvement in Ottawa.

Art Matin, CEO of Erie’s ownership group Mandalay Baseball Properties, wrote in an email that Mandalay and Erie “are not involved in anything that may or may not be happening in Ottawa.”

Meanwhile, Binghamton general manager Jim Weed told the Ottawa Citizen that the B-Mets are staying put. “We’re not going anywhere,” he told the newspaper, noting the local ownership group that has owned the team since 1994 is not putting it up for sale.

Any interested teams in the market would likely have to go through Minor League Baseball before dealing with city officials. When the Richmond market became available following the Braves’ move to Gwinnett after the 2009 season, any leagues, owners or prospective owners needed to be granted permission by their league and MILB president Pat O’Conner to explore the market. A similar scenario would likely be followed in Ottawa.

Ottawa hosted a Triple-A affiliate from 1993 through the 2007 season. The Lynx left town and relocated to a new ballpark in Lehigh Valley at the start of the 2008 season, and the Iron Pigs have led the minors in attendance the past two seasons.