Tuesday, August 28, 2007

LYNX: CITY COUNCIL WANTS TO PUT A LID ON IT

The Lynx lost 5-4 to the ScranYanks (boxscore, play-by-play), but first things first:

The sports-illiterate politicians never hesitate to deal the baseball fans who do come out in Ottawa a slap in the face:
"(City councillor) Jacques Legendre, the ward councillor for the area, said yesterday city council will consider a proposal this week to permanently cover the (Lynx) stadium and put in two full-sized soccer fields that can be converted into six mini-fields. Other sports, like tennis, could also be played at the facility.

"The renovation, which would increase the seating capacity to 12,000 from 10,000, would take two years to complete and could cost up to $40 million."
-- Ottawa Citizen
Question from the guy who hasn't been here long enough to understand the logic: Why do you need a 12,000-seat concert venue when there's already Scotiabank Place and the Civic Centre (unless something's planned for the latter) and when did there become such an overwhelming demand for public tennis courts? I pass one each day on the way to work and no one's ever using it.

It's not easy to argue on general principle against encouraging participation. The demand for soccer pitches far exceeds the supply (and number of hours in a day) to the point where people in indoor leagues are playing at midnight, as a colleague related the other day. Regardless, consider the long track record of bad civic planning in this city (Sparks St. Mall, anyone?). This kind of reeks of pulling their finger out of one leak -- oh, what are we gonna do with that ballpark? -- to plug another.

At least they're thinking a little about sports, but see how they play one one sports community off against another? It would be nice to know, after the rumours of the past couple months, if the city heard from the independent Can-Am League about putting another ball team here and listened with an open mind, or if it was blinded by soccer fever.

It's bloody scandalous how this city has undermined the Lynx (i.e., the reduction in parking around the ballpark) and has no idea about that forgotten demographic of freethinkers who go in for baseball when all the trends say they should be watching something else. Now they've come up with a way to erase most traces of the Lynx' existence. Maybe it's for the best, but right now it doesn't seem that way.

Thanks to the reader who sent that along.

Related:
Put a lid on stadium after Lynx leave town, city urged (Dave Rogers, Ottawa Citizen)

Right, the game: Remember how in high school, between Grades 9 and 10, you'd come back from summer vacation and girls you never paid much mind to looked completely different? That's kind of how it is with second baseman Joe Thurston, who to completely torture the analogy, is pulling out all the stops to get the attention of minor-league personnel directors. Thurston went on the road a .280 hitter with a .388 slugging percentage; he's jacked those figures up to .293/.415 after an 18-for-36 road trip (he also had six extra-base hits). Those aren't bad numbers for a good-fielding second baseman.

Of course, the telling stat is that Thurston was on base 18 times and scored only four runs. That's why the Lynx are in last place. Tonight, they couldn't cash in vs. the ScranYanks' Jose Veras with the bases juiced and none out in a 4-4 game in the eighth, and the home side gave the folks at Dunder-Mifflin a thrill by pushing across the deciding run in their half vs. Joe Bisenius, who'd been good of late.

Gary Burnham's up to 82 RBI, meaning he needs four over this final six-game homestand for the club record.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well as usual the logic is money. It is a group of business men who are proposing this. They would get the $40 milion dollars financing and they expect to make a profit over the coming years.
Councillor Legendre seems to be thinking only one thing. The city would no longer have to pay for the upkeep of the stadium and any future repairs or renos. I am not clear if the business group would rent or buy the site from the city. As far as what sports will be played there and what will not, I doubt is even on the councillors radar. Money talks.
I sounds like the proposal might have a chance to be adopted.It is appealling sometimes for gov't to get out of running everything and letting private business run some things. I guess if there are enough baseball fans in Ottawa to care, they better speak up , loud , clear, and soon.

sager said...

It just doesn't seem well-thought-out and this city needs to do more than just chase the fast buck.

Anyway, we all know how city councillors tend to think, they get a harebrained idea in their heads and can't shake it... then you end up with something terrible.

Carl said...

Neate,

I'm not sure that Legendre's necessarily in favor of this proposition - remember, he's on record as having ALWAYS opposed the stadium on Coventry Road. It'll be interesting to see how they vote on this issue, particularly if the City's being asked to cough up any part of the $40M. People have commented on my blog that Wolff is still very much interested in bringing Can-Am ball to Ottawa, predicated entirely upon what happens with AAA.

Honestly, and as I noted in my last post (shameless shilling here), anything short of tearing the thing down always leaves the door open (you'll obviously remember the famous plan to tear down Lansdowne Park in favor of condos) for baseball's return - which is OK with me. I thought that the loss of AAA would be used as a pretext for selling the land for retail or other development - it's curious to me that they're at least appearing to give some consideration of other options.

Dan R. said...

i don't know anything about ottawa or this stadium, so this is likely a stupid comment, but that's never stopped me before.

why wouldn't they want to use an inflatable roof? if they used one, couldn't they still use it for baseball in the summer and then convert it into a soccer field in the winter when the demand would be, i imagine, much higher? i think that's what they do with the new varsity stadium in toronto (which isn't for baseball, but still).

Dennis Prouse said...

Neate, you are sadly correct about city council members. Once they decide to ride a particular hobby horse, it is hard to get them off.

This idea is particularly half-baked -- there is no need for another concert venue in Ottawa, and as you mention tennis is hardly booming. (It's worth noting that the OAC is dumping its tennis courts at their location off St. Laurent.)

Let's keep in mind that the Lynx haven't even officially announced that they are leaving. We all assume it to be the case, of course, but don't forget they have a lease with the city that runs for another couple of years. I still believe that cooler heads will prevail here, and you'll still see that stadium there as primarily a baseball venue.

Tao of Stieb said...

The evidence that this is particularly poorly conceived is the idea that it could be used as a concert venue. Go to Landsdowne on any night when there is soccer/ultimate/touch football, and listen to the acoustics in there. It's like an echo chamber.

Also, we suggest everyone goes over to the Superior Shuttle Hi-Tech website, and observe the circa-1996 "Under Construction" animated gif that they have sitting there. Then ask yourself, could these guys actually pull off a $40 million building project?

Gargh! What's wrong with this city!

Pete Toms said...

FYI, David Naylor has his requsite death of the Ottawa Lynx article in the Globe today.

Miles Wolff ( who I admire greatly ) can't be quoted widely enough saying he wants to field a Can Am League team here but he never talks about ownership. Is he going to pay the bills? Does he want to own 2 teams in the same league? Does he have a local group interested? A non local person?

It makes sense logistically for the Can Am League to be in this market but at this point I think Wolff is trying to stoke interest to prevent the city from either bulldozing the stadium or converting it for other uses, I don't think he has an ownership group yet.

I wonder too if the city has had enough of the headaches of having pro ball here. They had a dispute with Howard Darwin over how much of the stadium construction cost he was on the hook for and they are involved in a lawsuit with the present owner over parking.

I would like nothing better than to see Indy Ball here next spring or any spring for that matter but I ain't optimistic.

Pet peeve. Naylor refers to Vancouver's baseball team as an A ball team. I hear this repeatedly, it is incorrect. Vancouver has a Short Season team. Short Season is below A ball.