Baseball will return to downtown Edmonton next year.
The City of Edmonton and the owner of the Edmonton Prospects agreed to a one-year extension to the current deal the team has to play at its Rossdale ballpark.
Gold Sports, which owns the Prospects, will operate RE/MAX Field in the river valley and field a team in 2020.
In a statement released Wednesday, a spokesperson said the city will “continue to work on the long-term strategy for the ballpark.”
In a message on Twitter, the Prospects said they hope to be part of Edmonton’s sports scene “for many years to come.”
In April, the city said it wouldn’t be renewing the Prospects’ fifth-year option on its lease at RE/MAX Field.
Instead, a city report showed Edmonton was putting out a request for submissions on a new 10-year lease that would begin in 2020.
However, Roger Jevne, branch manager of the city’s community and recreation facilities, said time ran out.
“We’re still going through the process to say: ‘Who do we want to be our facility manager?’ and since that hadn’t wrapped up, given the time, pressure to be fair to the league, the other teams, their scheduling, and make sure the Prospects could be successful, we decided to keep going with that process but extend the current agreement with the Prospects for a year to make sure there’s no disruptions.”
Team owner Patrick Cassidy said in April that development was bittersweet.
“It’s disappointing on one hand because we had stated we were very interested in exercising that fifth year.”
On the other hand, he said it was a positive thing the city was looking for a long-term partner for the venue.
“We’re still in the process of trying to secure a long-term operator,” Jevne said on Wednesday.
“That process hadn’t wrapped up, and given the time that the Prospects and the league needs to get their schedule set, to get sponsors, and to sell tickets, we decided to have the Prospects continue under the current agreement for one more year as we wrap up our process to look for a new operator of the facility.
“Hopefully the plan will be that the Prospects continue to play there but potentially a different operator in 2021.”
Councillor Michael Walters says the extra year gives everyone more time. He also hopes it will expand business opportunities in and around the ballpark.
“If there was amenities like restaurants in that space, you could do concerts and festivals and craft shows and other things that happen in all kinds of spaces in Edmonton today.
“So that was asked of our proponent — to come forward with a bigger vision and two people did. We just haven’t been able to work out the details yet.”
— With files from Scott Johnston