Butler's grandstanding on Friday was valuable. It pointed out that the future of summer sports, not necessarily baseball, in Ottawa is joined at the hip with who gets control of the stadium. It's not about the sport (it might be about which sport, since you could put a soccer team there). At least if Butler is running his mouth, perhaps it plants a seed with someone else about operating a summer team in Ottawa (Can-Am League, whatever league, maybe footy) in Ottawa.
Please forget the irony in his comment, "We are going try and make a run at it again" (Sun Media) with a Can-Am League ballclub. Butler using word we is a hoot and a half. For two years, he has refused to say who is part of his group which wants to turn Ottawa's baseball stadium into a multiuse entertainment facility. As for again, what was Butler's involvement the first time, besides screwing up the buses for the Rapidz' first road trip?
Anywho, the league's "best bet for strengthening itself could lie in Canada," according to indy baseball scribe Bob Werz. Trois-Rivières is the closest to a firm possibility. Suburban Montréal would be perfect if it was physically possible to put Ottawa's entire stadium on rollers and move it two hours east. Ottawa offers a stadium and some loyal fans.
The Can-Am has received a shot in the arm publicity-wise from Éric Gagné bringing his supposedly shot arm to the Québec Capitales. Running with eight teams is better than the current six, since it makes for a less repetitive schedule. There is some potential, although broader sports-watching trends don't hold much sway in Ottawa. Nothing that happens anywhere else could ever have sway in Ottawa. That point was reaffirmed during the whole MLS-CFL debate in late 2008-early '09. The right side came out on top, but it was rich to see the pro-CFL side dismiss MLS as small-time. It has had tremendous launches in Seattle and Toronto (the expansion Sounders' average attendance rivals the baseball Mariners, albeit it with one-fourth as many games) and will be hit in Portland and Vancouver.
Whoever tries to make a go with baseball in Ottawa is going to have to step up in a market where two ball teams have gone by the wayside. Most people don't know or care the Triple-A Lynx were bled dry or that the Rapidz were rendered a joke by nimrod owners who didn't know their assets from second base. Perception is reality.
Meantime, the onus is on the media to be more judicious with figuring out if someone is credible rather than saying, "Hey, this guy says he wants to own a baseball team." Don't we all want to own a baseball team, and have an elephant?
David Butler is a trifle. The same might go for this other character who has come out of the woodwork, Duncan Macdonald. His description screams, "true believer." Macdonald says he worked for the Toronto Blue Jays during their World Series years. Apparently he did some scouting, but in the grand scheme part-time scouts have about as much to do with a Major League Baseball team's success in a given season as the assistant to the travelling secretary.
Listening to Butler describe his grandiose vision is like listening to George Costanza describe his fake house in the Hamptons. Butler at least has the good sense to scurry off and let it die rather than drive his dead fiancée's parents out to the end of the island.
That doesn't mean Butler won't try the same old ploy of telling anyone who will listen about using the stadium for concerts. It's awfully familiar:
Ottawa Business Journal, Aug. 31, 2007: "David Butler has interests with a prestigious list of firms to turn Lynx Stadium, which hosted its last Triple-A Ottawa Lynx game today, into a multi-service entertainment and sports complex within perhaps 20 months."The point is the baseball story is not going away in Ottawa. Having a stadium and a population of 1 million increases the odds of someone taking a shot. Of course, having a population of 1 million also increases the number of people who will listen to David Butler. C'est la vie!
Sun Media, Aug. 21, 2009: "David Butler ... says he has submitted a proposal to the city and to Can-Am League commissioner Miles Wolff to re-open the doors of the Ottawa Baseball Stadium and field a team.
" ... However, given the checkered history of baseball at the Coventry Rd. stadium, Butler says he wants to use the facility for more than just baseball.
"Butler would like the city to allow the stadium to be used for concerts and other events.
" 'Baseball would be one product,' said Butler. 'Nobody will make just baseball work. I want something there every day.' "