Council approved the lease agreement at its meeting on Dec. 11. A motion was also carried which asked staff to looking into allowing the stadium to be used for other events outside of the baseball season.
The City of Ottawa is one step closer to having a professional baseball team again.
The city’s Finance and Economic Development Committee has approved a lease agreement for RCGT Park with OSEG and Sam Katz, owner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
According to the report tabled at committee recommending that council approve the deal, the lease is set to begin in Dec. 2021 and last for 10 years with the rent being set at $125,000 per year.
Mayor Jim Watson said this deal is a positive one for the city as it tackles the debt left behind by the last leaser, who failed to make rent payments.
“I think this is a good deal for the city. The proponents are going to pay the debt that was left behind,” said Watson.
“The three things I think will make it more successful: one, the people that own the Redblacks have experience running sports franchises and they have local tie; secondly, Sam Katz has a very solid track record of probably the most successful semi-pro baseball team out of Winnipeg in Canada; and third, we have the Max Keeping bridge that will allow people to get on the train, walk over the 417 and have a seat at a really nice baseball stadium.”
OSEG’s pitch to own the team means the Ottawa group owns the rights to three of the five professional sports organizations that currently exist and will exist in the city. Redblacks, Fury and now baseball are all owned by the group with the Ottawa Senators and upcoming Ottawa Blackjacks owned by Eugene Melnyk and the Canada Elite Basketball League respectively.
The Blackjacks are partnered with OSEG to host the basketball games at TD Place and they also own the Ottawa 67s OHL team.
Watson says a small pool of owners is not really a concern, though, especially if those owners are working with out-of-town partners to move sports ahead in the city.
“I think we’re fortunate that we had OSEG and Sam Katz that came together and it offers us the best of both worlds,” Watson says. “You end up with local ownership with an out-of-town owner as well that has good experience with semi-pro baseball.”
This will be the third attempt in the last decade to bring baseball to the capital with the last two, the Fat Cats and the Champions, folding. When asked what will happen to the city-owned arena if this third attempt fails, Watson says the city just needs a chance to grow.
Should the team fail, though, the mayor says he doubts there will be a fourth group willing to try again and the city may have to start looking at other avenues for the valuable property.
The vote still has to proceed to council on Dec. 11 in order to gain full approval.
Global News has reached out to OSEG for a comment on the vote today.