(Oh, and there is a, er-ah, $2.77-million "leaving town tax" for the Ottawa Lynx-cum-Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.)
That seems to be the mindset among some people who work for Ottawa taxpayers (just in case they need a reminder) after reading the letter from the Can-Am League that Steve Warne, host of the Team 1200's morning show Three Guys On The Radio, blogged today. Can-Am commish Miles Wolff's name isn't on the letter, but it blows the roof off what's been going on for about the past six months as independent baseball has made its pitch to set up shop in Ottawa after the Triple-A Lynx leave for Allentown, Pa.:
The highlights (or lowlights, if you pay taxes in this city) of the letter's claims (and thanks again to Carl Kiiffner at Ottawa Lynx Blog for the heads-up):
- The Lynx, with Can-Am reps in tow, went to the city last April and promised to drop its $11-million lawsuit against the city over the selling off of Lynx Stadium parking spaces "if the city dropped their claim of $2,770,000 for (a) promissory note" owner Ray Pecor signed when he bought the team in 2000.
That sounds like a fair compromise -- but the city apparently dragged its feet.
- About that $2.77-million note or "leaving town tax": The Lynx says it's interest on the money the city borrowed from the old city of Nepean in the early '90s to build the ballpark.
How can anyone owe money to a lender that now longer exists? Better yet, why would this city hold someone over the coals when it might even cost taxpayers even more for the city's lawyers to do the examination for discovery, the research, the preparation and court time to fight the Lynx lawsuit. That's before any potential award that a judge might give to Pecor, who appears to have a fairly strong case.
- As previously noted, the stadium would become home offices and home field for Baseball Canada, which currently has no such facility (bloody scandalous for a country that played for a medal in baseball at the last Olympics and has close to two dozen major leaguers.)
How can the local government in the nation's capital not bend over backwards to help a sport so many Canadians have played and enjoyed for more than a century, especially when it costs them nothing?
Try being Miles Wolff. He's a man from North Carolina appealing to us on grounds of Canadian patriotism, and he's getting the response, "Well, emmmmmm, maybe, I don't know."
- The Lynx offered to turn over "nearly $1 million in assets in the stadium" to the Can-Am League team. It could have been a "turnkey operation," to borrow the phrasing Wolff used when he was here to meet with city councillors on Sept. 13. Instead, this is dragging out and that equipment -- office furnitures, concessions -- might have to be liquidated if the Can-Am League isn't here in May 2008.
- We now understand why general manager Kyle Bostwick has had to play it so coy up until now with whether the Lynx are leaving -- they can't risk that $2.77-million leaving town tax:
"The Lynx are prepared to notify the city if the city will assure them that the interest payments are no longer due. The city will not make these assurances. Therefore, the stalemate will drag on, and it will be April when the first game should be scheduled before the Lynx are officially in violation of their lease."
This is being written with a 10-year-old boy's hope that this is going to work out since it doesn't need to come to this. Ottawa has baseball fans, enough to make the Can-Am League work here. Miles Wolff, who knows more about whether a city can host minor-league baseball than anyone else alive, says so. It's more scaleable and it's cheap.
Instead, in the Can-Am League's words, "The only winners will be the lawyers." It's see you in court, when it should be, see you at the Stadium. It doesn't have to be this way.
Ottawa's Baseball Puzzle (Steve Warne's TGOR Nation blog)