Monday, September 03, 2007


Ottawa Business Journal reported this morning that that David Butler fella who wants to convert Lynx Stadium into a "multi-service entertainment and sports complex" has a title sponsor lined up. In 100 years, you'll never guess what "charismatic" beer baron is lined up to attach his corporate brand on to this project, although it's only a side issue. Sorry, this space doesn't worry about little people who seem to be beyond education and beyond embarrasment.

The real issue: Miles Wolff, the commissioner of the Can-Am League, has said, "It won't cost the city anything to let us in." That hits on what the Ottawa Citizen touched upon today in its editorial criticizing the city councillor for the area, Jacques Legendre, for his support of this vaguely outlined plan: Legendre is forgetting that politics is the art of the possible.

It's true, as the Citizen put it, that building a baseball-only facility in the early '90s was shortsighted and, "There is very little that would be successful in that perfect little ballpark other than baseball while taking advantage of those 10,000 seats." (Emphasis mine.) That's a bit of a false dichotomy. The June-through-Labour Day Lynx attendance figures have been pored over and it suggests potential to have very good attendance figures by the standards of the Can-Am League. Besides, the local sports scene is poorer without baseball's calming influence.

The best possible solution is the one that costs taxpayers the least and creates the least headaches. Letting the Can-Am League in comes with its own set of concerns. Those are minor, pardon the pun, next to what this city would be taking on if goes in for this plan.

The gut reaction is that the brains behind this seems to be throwing more spitballs than Gaylord Perry in his later seasons: They're mentioning tennis courts, soccer pitches, "talk of a country music hall of fame," not one but two Tim Hortons on site, capacity of up to 25,000 for concerts (can someone remind these guys Coldplay couldn't sell out Scotiabank Place a few years ago when it was only the biggest act in the world?). What, no pool with a swim-up bar?

Oh, but don't worry, baseball could be squeezed in too. We would just give the batter a ground-rule double whenever a high fly ball hits the roof.

Legendre Strikes Out (Ottawa Citizen)

Chiefs 8 Lynx 5 was a .300 hitter for about 20 minutes in tonight's 3-2 Lynx loss (boxscore, play-by-play): That trio of two-run blasts the Chiefs hit in the decisive sixth inning will serve in place of a 21-gun salute.

There's really not much else to say; the sadness of all this has defeated language. Joe Thurston did sit out to protect his .300 batting average. Gary Burnham ended up one RBI short of tying the team record.The saga of what's to become of Lynx Stadium is getting more surreal by the minute.

How's this for a little numerical coincidence? The team's final won-loss record of 55-88 works out to a winning percentage of .385 — identical to the career on-base percentage of the greatest of all Expos, Tim Raines, who's likely to be snubbed by the Baseball Hall of Fame since there's no obvious reminder of what he did in MontrĂ©al.


Pete Toms said...

Nice find on the OBJ story. I think the most interesting quote in the story is:

"That land is far, far too valuable for any sporting facility," said Barry Nabatian, an economic analyst for Market Research Corp.

"In terms of value for money, it'll probably become office or retail," he said. "Chances are, it would be a combination."

I hope that this guy is wrong and that it remain a baseball only facility but I suspect he's right.
15+ years ago when the stadium was constructed that area was desolate. The land that the stadium ( & The Hampton ) sits on was a snow dump and there was little else there. The Stadium spurred development in that area, Coventry Road is home now to Big Box and on the adjacent side of the Queensway another enormous big box development is under way.

In a nutshell, the value of that real estate on which the stadium sits has to have increased exponentially in the past 15+ years. Will the lure of the easy cash be too strong for Council to walk away from?

Email / call / visit your Councillor & the Mayor, BASEBALL ONLY!

Dennis Prouse said...

The concert business is really hurting these days, so from that perspective alone this thing makes no sense. With you-know-who slithering around in the background, this deal is even more suspicious. Call me a cynic, but I think they want the land for something quite different than they are saying publicly.

Pete Toms said...

I neglected to mention one other item in the OBJ story that I found noteworthy. Did they really sell $357,000 in beer at the Nickelback show?

Dennis Prouse said...

At $8.50 a beer, that's 42,000 beers. It sounds high, but entirely possible given the crowd they were serving.

Regardless of the actual number, I'll bet a LOT of beer was consumed, allowing you to see where the real money is to be made in the sports/entertainment business. Why do you think it is that pro sports teams refuse to be simple tenants anymore, and want a piece of the action on concessions, if not be able to control it outright?

Tao of Stieb said...

Great point by Pete, and one that We have been making over and over to people this month: that area was a wasteland before the Stadium went in. We remember going to games before the Canadian Tire was there, and before the office space across the street went up, not to mention the Best Buy and the Hotel.

It boggles the mind that the people in that area have complained about traffic in their neighbourhoods. The fact is that the Stadium and the developments around it have spurred growth and enhanced their property values immeasurably. That area was seen as merely an extension of Vanier (a dirty word when it comes to real estate in Ottawa), and they should hit their knees every night and be thankful for what the Lynx and baseball helped do for that area.

This weekend was just unspeakably sad. Mrs Tao kept saying all weekend that there would be another team coming in, for sure. But we just can't see it today. This city just has a knack for screwing up good things.

Pete Toms said...

"We sold 42,000 beers at $8.50 each," That's what Mr. Butler is quoted as saying to OBJ. I'll be generous and spread out the consumption over 4 hours, but that's still over 10,000 beers per hour!!

Anyway, yes Dennis, the Corporations that run pro sports today are certainly much more adept at squeezing every last nickel out of their investment than their predecessors, to the detriment of fans. Signage, pouring rights, sponsorships, naming rights, wireless, web, cable, over the air TV & Radio, merchandising, parking, concessions, ticketing ( primary & secondary ) .....

TOS, I agree with you, the Stadium did a lot for that neighborhood but instead of being thankful for that Councillor Legendre is only interested in playing to the NIMBY's in his ward who kvetch to him about traffic. ( I think essentially that's what all Councillor's do, listen to complaints about traffic but I digress ). And yes, it is SAD, I am saddened. I didn't attend yesterday's game - family commitments - but I was there Sunday and at the DH Thurs nite. Had I been there yesterday I'm certain I would have been kinda weepy. I went to the last Expos game and that was emotional, this I'll miss much, much more.

someone who knows said...

WOW. What a bunch of B.S. Not only are those beer numbers grossly wrong, but the said authour would never have had any access to those numbers. Can he be trusted?????