Monday, April 28, 2008


Jean-Pierre Allard was at The Zip -- as Ottawa's ballpark has been dubbed -- and would to ask people to give the owners and the new Rapidz name a chance.

I'll bet you all the money you spent on the Ottawa Senators last spring that never in your wildest dreams could you have imagined how rapidly the new Ottawa Rapids baseball team could move outside the base paths.

At today’s press conference at Ottawa Stadium, members of the media were introduced to the new owners, Rick Anderson and Rob Hall, local entrepreneurs of Canada’s largest online video rental company They verified that they have changed the spelling of the team’s name to RAPIDZ while introducing a new red logo (pictured), replete with the maple leaf and the standard run-off banner carrying the moniker under the city’s name.

It is rather uncanny that the idea of Messrs. Anderson and Hall stepping up to the plate and swinging a deal to purchase Ottawa’s baseball club from Can-Am League commissioner Miles Wolff was pitched to them while they were attending a Senators game at Scotiabank Place last month. Like I was saying, the Rapids can, indeed, move rapidly.

You are are forgiven for thinking you've seen this movie before in Ottawa, after stumbling across your original Senators’ jersey with the infamous Peace Tower logo, or your ticket stub to the inaugural game at the short-lived Palladium Centre in your basement collection. (Not to mention your Roughriders T-shirt with the flaming-R logo from the early '90s.)

Most will undoubtedly recall that Rapids/Rapides was drawn from a fan contest and chosen to commemorate the area's rich history with the lumber industry and its river and rapids. Fans are well within their rights to be a tad skeptical and not welcome this change with open minds.

After mulling over this change for the past two days, I think it would be best to look at it, not so much at what is lost from not having a bilingual moniker, but much more at what stands to be gained from having a language-neutral one.

Anderson and Hall's reasoning is that it will be simpler to have one team name while it will also be easier for all to identify with. It might also avoid any situation in which fans, especially the young ones, mistakenly come home with the wrong memorabilia.

Naturally, the financial implications of carrying one moniker and one logo make perfect sense, lest we forget that this sport is a business.

Today’s conference made it clear that this should not be viewed as a slight to the large and tradition-laden Outaouais baseball fans. Au contraire. The Rapidz' message delivered at its inaugural press conference on Valentine's Day to the effect that it will not ignore "l'aspect francophone" of the Ottawa-Gatineau market remains as strong today as it was two months ago. Only the ownership has changed.

And hey, while phonetically speaking, Rapidz in French is not quite Rapides, can anyone seriously tell me that they won't be able to pronounce the name in French?

Remember that the the Montreal Expos had one name, not two, and they played in a predominantly French market while nary a complaint from the language police was ever heard.

The bottom line is that while many were all busy getting caught in semantics and politics, baseball fans nearly forgot to rejoice in the tremendous news from this story. The Rapidz are now owned by two young, bright and successful entrepreneurs who are huge baseball fans and who are committed to making this latest baseball opportunity a winning and sustainable venture.

I came away with the sense that the new owners are about to explore new and innovative approaches toward promoting ball here in the region. Already, Hall has stated that one of his priorities will be to ensure that families will have healthy menu items to choose from at the concession stands outside of the traditional ballpark fare.

When I jokingly asked Mr. Anderson if he had given any thought to promoting the DVDs Eight Men Out and Bull Durham, both baseball movies celebrating their 20th anniversary this season, he replied quickly that it was an interesting idea.

I also surreptitiously asked if there was any truth to the rumours that customers would now be given the option of bringing their DVD rentals back to the stadium instead of mailing them. To which Mr. Anderson could only offer a warm smile.

Not sure his firm would want to cut into Canada Post's profit margin at this point in time.

(UPDATE: The UORB has some thoughts on the Rapidz transition that should be read for posterity's sake. )


Anonymous said...

If indeed the rationale for the name change was that the owners wanted only one logo instead of two (a very defensible position) and they opted for Rapidz as something that is language neutral (instead of either picking Rapids or Rapides), then that would go a long way with me. I think most people have a problem with this, not because of the lost of a billingual name, but because they feel the first motivation is to plug the Z from in the name, even if the result is a controversial name, and as a result get people talking about their DVD rental company. The new owners could simply post something on the website explaining the move. If it is for the reasons put forward on this post, then I absolutely can live with that. Above all I think what the controversy from the last few days have shown is that there is already tremendous attachment in this city to this team, even though not a single ball has been pitched. I'm not sure something similar with the Lynx would have generated as much interest. This is promising for the future of pro ball in Ottawa.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sager said...

In reference to the deleted comment up above, if you're going to say something critical about me, at least attach it to a post I actually wrote.

You owe Jean-Pierre Allard an apology, whoever you are.

Anonymous said...

That was a fine commentary on the rationale behind the change and since I've forwarded this to the Rapidz, they may take note and clarify this later.

And yes, you may well be on to something, re: the fact that people care so much being a good omen.


Rob said...

Dear Anonymous,

I can assure you that the modifcation about the spelling of the name Rapidz was entirely about having one logo, and one name, that works in both languages.

I can't even take credit for the idea, as it came from a member of the Rapidz staff, not a member of the team.

While I smile at your comment about it being all about the Z in both names, it really isn't.

Thanks for your comment though, and feel free to keep them coming. We want to make baseball in Ottawa a wonderful experience for fans and families.


jayme said...

I am taking you are rob hall.I have some questions.

1)Since the team has a 2 year lease no matter what happens this year.The team will be back next year is that correct.

2)Is there any plan for any special promo night fireworks for exzample.

3)The 67s run now and then a $1 meuu day.Where hotdogs etc are a $1 each.Is there any plans to run something like this.

4)In the ottawa sun and citizen it said you plan on having flat screen tvs around the park plus a mvp lounge by the club house.Can you go into deatil of any thing else.

I am sorry about so many questions.

mikey said...

JP, I must be missing something. The rationale for the change is to simplify for both sides of the river, correct?

Then why the need to completely change the logo to made it beer-league cliche, merchandise unfriendly, and plain amateur-looking?

Wait, amateur baseball logos in the city using the same colour scheme are more attractive than the Rapidz one in its low-rez (sic, unless you're a sports team) incarnation. See the ON Canadians. They play at Lynx Stadium. Don't need to go far.

The reason the 'z' (which undoubtedly will be pronounced differently throughout the Can-Am league...the confusion!) was added *along* with the red was to promote the company. Pure and simple. Why can't we come and say it?

Hopefully Rob and Rick will use some of their business acumen to dash straight to the best logo designers in the minors in the States to come up with a cap and uni that's wearable. Please.

I would really love to buy an attractive Rapidz cap to go along with my nutritional foodz.

sager said...

Carl's got his post up at the Unofficial Ottawa Rapids Blog, if any of you silly geese care to take a gander.

Rob said...


Thanks for your questions. Here are the answers.

I can assure you that we did not purchase the team to only run it for one year. I was born and raised in Ottawa (Manotick actually), and I believe in baseball in Ottawa. One of the reasons we bought the team was to ensure that we have a team for many years to come.

There are plans for many special theme nights. As you can imagine, we are moving quickly to get all of these in place and annoucements out. Stay tuned.

Lets talk about food for a minute. I think that will be one area that you will see the most difference. Our concession menu will have much more variety on it, with many healthy choices. Sure, we will have regular ball park fare, but we also will have food that won't make mothers cringe when their kids order it. We want people to come to the park for dinner and bring their entire family.

I think you will also be pleasantly surprised at our pricing of the concessions. I believe all of our prices are significantly lower than last year. We want people to come, relax, have dinner, and enjoy what a ball game can be.

I am also confident that we will, as you suggest, have a Loonie hot dog day, in keeping with great old baseball traditions.

As to flat screens, there are a few locations we hope to have them up. We are working with Rogers TV to broadcast the games, and would be showing this inside the stadium, and in the suites.

But keep in mind that we also have a fair bit of expertise in the Internet. One of the things I would love to do is have some monitors above the box office that show the next best seats available in real time. We are trying to find ways to eliminate lines for tickets, and it seems to me that speeding up the process where people pick where they want to sit would be a good place to start.

Speaking of tickets though, we will be a little different this year (mainly because I am a geek). We will have all tickets bar coded, and scanned for entry at the stadium. That means they can be ordered online, and printed at home. No need to wait in line anywhere. Just print and come on down to the park.

One other feature you will note when you get your first tickets, is we have introduced a fan response system. Basically, if your experience at a game was anything less than perfect, we want to know about it so we can fix it.

Thanks for your questions, and I look forward to meeting you all at a game.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a professional set-up.
I might actually go to a ball game or two, something I'd avoided doing during the Lynx tenure...


Anonymous said...

Can you answer who designed the new logo? Was it an Ottawa or Canadian-based designer? From most of the blogs I've been reading about the name and logo change, it seems that the old name/logo are favoured by almost 20 to 1. Any chance of going back? I was pumped when I saw the team announced, but since the name and logo change I have to admit that I'm a bit deflated.