Put up or shut up, David Butler.
An attention-seeker with zero track record as a sports operator can only do harm to efforts to get any kind of franchise up and running at Ottawa's Coventry Rd. stadium. The big publicity stunt that you saw today was a pathetically obvious attempt to try to do a selling job on the city council.
Most reports have ignored that the sub-lease the Can-Am League negotiated with the ownership of the defunct Ottawa Lynx expires at the end of September. Butler is trying to create a groundswell of support — a hackneyed ploy straight from his hero Frank D'Angelo's playbook — before the amateurs have to clear the floor and make room for the big boys who would like to lay hands on that piece of property. That is his journey.
Anyone who has been following this story these past two years knows Butler, will in all certainty, go back under his rock once his 15 minutes are up. The real risk is that Butler can do damage to groups who want to make serious inquiries about the facility, be it for Can-Am League baseball, another ball team, perhaps soccer (you could get the capacity up to 14,000 seats by putting temporary bleachers, but where would people park?).
Stringing along the public while an indifferent and/or lazy media laps it up (hey, have to generate content and it is the last week of August) could be damaging. If people buy Butler's cock-and-ball story and it doesn't work out, which is pretty damn likely, it hurts the chances of a more credible operator doing something. It could also mean the city would be less likely to make a fair deal on use of the stadium. (For those who don't know, all the sports facilities in Ottawa, such as the Sensplex, are heavily subsidized by the city, but the ballpark was not, although that was one among many reasons the Lynx are livin' in Allentown.)
Meantime, for the media who gave Butler his photo op, how hard is it to work the Google on the Internet machine and get some idea of what he is about? How tough is it to contact Can-Am League commissioner Miles Wolff?
Dave Butler and his partner, Duncan MacDonald are inexperienced and in 99.9% likelihood are underfunded. They have no experience. It is established beyond a reasonable doubt that Butler has not produced when it matters. He could not even get the team bus to arrive at the stadium to pick the Rapidz up for a road trip last season. No amount of calling yourself an "Ottawa businessman" (CBC's term) and saying you are "ready to go now" will make up for being cash- and knowledge-deficient. If he can pull it off, more power to him, but it is probably not happening and shame on the media for letting itself be taken on a trolley ride.
Forget asking to see the colour of someone's money — in this case, it's more like seeing if someone has money, period. Meantime, once that lease is up at the end of next month, someone more credible probably will roll out a plan. Beware anyone who tries to push his case through the public.
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