Friday, May 08, 2009

Baseball in Ottawa: Hope fades

To quote what The Tao of Stieb said when the Ottawa Voyageurs folded, "The latticework of circumstance continues to break our baseball-loving heart."

The news is not encouraging for those hoping to see pro baseball again in 2010, or ever. Independent baseball is taking some serious hits amid the global credit crunch, which means a few leagues could disappear.
"It's serious enough that some independent league officials expect that not all of the current leagues will still be around when 2010 arrives.

" 'I think this in many ways could be the toughest year for independent baseball," Can-Am League and American Association commissioner Miles Wolff said. 'In the early years there was all this excitement that this is something new. There was St. Paul and Long Island, where baseball was back. Now all those cities have matured. Now it's a mode where we have to continue. There are not a lot of new things happening to make people say, Wow.' "

"The crazy promotions that seemed fresh and new in the 1990s are now a regular part of the minor league experience. And where in the '90s there always seemed to be a new market to move to if a team should start to falter, the building boom is largely over these days." — Baseball America
Wolff hit the nail on the head. Indy ball has been a victim of its own success, since it shook up the minors and forced them to change the way they do busness. It went from being a dead industry with games played only in front of diehards to family entertainment. Ballpark Digest also noted the Can-Am League is teetering:
"The independent Can-Am Association is down to six teams this season; you have two extremely strong franchises (Brockton and Quebec), one OK franchise (New Jersey), one struggling franchise (Sussex), and one interesting experiment that could go either way (American Defenders of New Hamphire). We don't hear any prospects for new teams for 2010 or beyond, either ..."
This is going to factor into Ottawa's endless stadium debate. Knowing how it works in Ottawa, you can't imagine this will do much to disabuse city councillors who want to tear down the Coventry Rd. ballpark.

Ultimately, it should not be forgotten Miles Wolff did believe in this city and its ball fans, and city officials did come around during the past two winters. That should be a pleasant memory even if there's never another professional baseball game in Ottawa again. (Then again, I'm just one guy.)

Bad Time For Indy Ball; Recession will be felt throughout '09 season (J.J. Cooper, Baseball America)
Debt, turnover put future of Tornadoes in doubt (Ballpark Digest)

No comments: