Monday, April 19, 2010

Ottawa Fat Cats' field of dreams (or is it schemes?)

Ottawa's newest baseball concern is really putting the "fantasy" in fantasy camp.

The Ottawa Fat Cats, the somewhat fledgling expansion entry in the Inter-County Baseball League, are charging $850 for a fantasy camp they plan to hold in July at the Coventry Rd. ballpark. For about half that amount, you could score four tickets to tonight's Pittsburgh Penguins-Ottawa Senators NHL playoff game, and see actual household name athletes.

Not to dump on the IBL, but where did the Fat Cats get that price point? Who would pay $850 to hobnob with players from a level of baseball in which someone could actually hit .427, as Jeremy Ware (who ironically, tried out for the Ottawa Rapidz in 2008), did in 2009.

A fantasy camp affiliated with a MLB team will typically cost $4,000-$5,000, but that is for an entire week and includes airfare and accommodations. The Kansas City Royals did not even hold one this winter.

It strains credulity to believe a first-year team with largely anonymous players in a league which plays a 36-game schedule can get 40 people to plunk down $850 to toss a ball around with players from what a league one fan of the former Oshawa team described as "essentially an amateur, mostly weekend league in which the players show up when the games don't conflict with their school work or jobs."

Like the team name itself, one bad decision alone should not make or break this venture. It is enough to question the judgment of the people who are (loose usage ahead) organizing the IBL franchise and promising big things this summer. The Fat Cats already plan on having the highest ticket price in the league ($12 for single games, $18 for doubleheaders).

As for the $850 fantasy camp, who knows. Perhaps they will fly in Michael Richards to reprise the Seinfeld in which Kramer confessed to punching out Mickey Mantle at a fantasy camp ("I own the inside of that plate, Jerry").

38 comments:

Rob Pettapiece said...

This is a joke, right?

Twelve dollars for the Intercounty league is robbery. This league is Rookie ball. Worse, it's unaffiliated Rookie ball.

It's like...I don't even know what the hockey comparison is. What's three levels below the OHL? Whatever it is, charge the same price for it. See how far you get.

Ottawa can make the IBL work, but it can't be in a AAA stadium, and it can't be with "organizers" who are clueless.

Anonymous said...

See Neate...that wasn't so hard, was it?

sager said...

That's what she said, once she stopped laughing at the idea of paying $12 to watch the Inter-County League.

Dennis Prouse said...

Perhaps they are trying to follow the Vancouver Canadians model. When Vancouver lost its "AAA" team, a Rookie League "A" team moved in. They kept the Canadians name and uniforms, and just kept charging the same prices as "AAA". Even though the quality of play had fallen off significantly, most people really didn't notice.

The Fat Cats are likely hoping for the same thing, figuring that playing out of the same stadium as the Lynx will mask the fact that the level of baseball has taken a dive. We'll see how it works for them.

Anonymous said...

No i would not call this rookie ball on the same level in hockey its major series (sr a)Same type of players really going no where just playing for the fun of it.Teams charge $10-$20 and some teams sell out every game.Its not 3 levels below ohl its really between ohl and minor pro in some ways.Could the fat cats work yes it could the owners are doing some good things and some things maybe no the best time.Is the camp the best way to go that could be up for debate.

Jayme

sager said...

I would point out Rob and I are the only people here who have seen an Inter-County game in person, so we might have a little better idea as to the quality of product.

Lynxfan said...

Ummm, no. Other teams are not charging $10-20.

Barrie: $5 Adults, Kids 12 and under FREE

Brantford: $5 Adults, Kids 13 and under FREE, Seniors and Students $2

Guelph: $6 Adults, Seniors and Students $4, Kids 5 and under FREE

Hamilton: $5 Adults, $3 Seniors, $2 Youth, Family of 4 $10.

Kitchener: $7 Adults, Seniors $5, Kids 15 and under FREE

London: $6 Adults, $4 Kids and seniors

Mississauga: $7 Adults, $5 Seniors and students, Kids 12 and under FREE.

Toronto: Not posted.

Anonymous said...

LYnxfan
I was talking about major series hockey.

sager said...

@10:45: That doesn't help you. Are you talking about Major League Hockey, which only has four teams?

By the way:

Fat Cats season tickets: $198
Dundas Real McCoys season tickets: $120

Lynxfan said...

So there's no argument then that Fat Cats tickets are overpriced? I wonder if this is the kind of exposure/discussion yesterday's Anonymous was looking for?

Anonymous said...

Whitby season tickets are about $260.00.My point is yes the fat cats are a bit over priced but there not the only team.Even look at the new semi pro football team $150-$200 for season tickets.

Jayme

sager said...

Whitby is charging $13 for the league final -- $1 more than what a baseball team is charging in regular season.

Rob Pettapiece said...

Toronto: Not posted

Likely free, if I remember correctly. Christie Pits is pretty casual.

Its not 3 levels below ohl its really between ohl and minor pro in some ways.

It's really not. Reeeeaaaallly not.

IBL is what it is: community baseball and a day at the park for a low price. That can work, and I'm not having a go at the players for not being AA- or AAA-quality.

But the Fat Cats' season tickets are as "low" as about $8.30 per game, which you can see is more than every other team's single-game price. The ticket price is ridiculous.

It's not the only problem with the franchise, though...a 10,000 seat stadium will be horrible for IBL. And Ottawa ain't exactly baseball-crazy.

Anonymous said...

Funny this started on the so called fantasy camp and now its about the ticket prices.

Do anyone realize it's a one day camp, a one day camp priced at $850. If nothing else is there anyone who would pay $850 for a one day event like this

LynxFan said...

It's not just about the fantasy camp. The camp, the ticket prices, parking all demonstrate show just how much these guys don't understand the market or their product. If this is what they figure an IBL ticket is worth, God help us when they get their Golden League franchise.

It's like a bad segment on Dragon's Den - their valuation is crazy. And for that reason, I'm out (sadly, they likely will be as well).

Anonymous said...

As for the Golden League why would a league based in Western Canada and the Southwestern United States grant a franchise to anyone in eastern canada?

Anonymous said...

A for the the golden league i could see it wanting to branch out of the west and east canada may be idea.The atlanta league is expanding west so maybe the gbl feels they need to grow east.I know its easy and some time fun to second guess every move and in some cases bash but lets give it time.The ibl team may do fine.

Jayme

Anonymous said...

Rob
No city in canada is baseball crazy.YOu may be shocked in a good way with the level of play.

Jayme

Anonymous said...

The IBL team will do fine? Jeez, Ottawa had Triple A baseball a step from the major league's (and yes ticket prices were cheaper than the IBL) and that failed -- unless you're drinking whatever Kool-Aid they're offering, this will NEVER work, NEVER.

Anonymous said...

As "yesterday's" anonymous poster, I guess I'll clarify my stance...

I don't really have any position on the problems and/or opportunities associated with the Fat Cats and the IBL. I was, however, surprised to see a blog that previously spent significant amounts of space devoting itself to the trials and tribulations of both the Lynx and the Rapidz seemingly willing to ignore the incarnation of yet another baseball franchise in Ottawa. I didn't know why Neate felt this matter wasn't of any consequence, so I asked him about it. Simple as that.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Fronts-bashing...

Wes Long Fan said...

@ Jayme...

No city in Canada is baseball crazy? You might want to check Winnipeg's numbers. If Ottawa had posted those the Lynx would still be in the city.

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Anonymous said...

Jayme...

Yes baseball is working in Winnipeg but they are an anomaly. Baseball had failed in Winnipeg, left for many years and made its return (not sure but was it not around 2000?)

If baseball was ever going to really work in Ottawa (and it never will with this plan in place) the city needed to experience that feeling of losing a team for at least five or so years and then enjoying the thrill of its return.

Did the owner/GM not tell the Ottawa Citizen he had a one year lease? A year from now he'll be gone, he'll have lost money and baseball will be dead in Ottawa.

Still can't imagine anyone charging $850 for a one day 'fantasy' baseball camp with a bunch of house leage baseball players. If that's there business plan -- what's next?

Anonymous said...

Ibl teams don't draw big crowds the avg is between 200-300 per game.

Wes Long
No i do not beleave if ottawa had good numbers they would not be here.The international league did not want for what ever reason like the idea of teams in canada.

Jayme

sager said...

@9:15 Thanks for the clarification. You do realize my professional situation has changed significantly since 2007-08, so that is why I haven't had time to write.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:23....
If the IL "didn't like the idea" of having teams in Canada,
then why did the league grant Howard Darwin a franchise in the first place?
Let me tell you the IL LOVED the Lynx attendance numbers the
first two years of operation but alas
the bloom fell of the rose pretty fast.
Pretty soon it was hard to tell game day from an off day, crowd wise.
The Fat Cat management must think that's who we
are..."fat cat swivel servants" who will pay
AAA prices to see class B ball.
Well I got news for them.
Ottawa fans soon got tired of AAA ball.
What onearthmakes them think IBL could make a go,
especially with the league's highest ticket price?
They should call themselves the Krazy Kats.

Anonymous said...

At first i am sure they did but then over time i think it was not there idea location.I may be wrong about that its just from rumors i heard etc.What yopu have to keep in mind is you can't look at the stadium and no matter what level they should sell out anything less is a bust.For a ibl team i don't think the stadium is the best its just to big hampton yards would have been better.

Jayme

sager said...

Jayme,

It's been explained here numerous times it's not about the sport, it's about the property. They want control of the stadium and will go through the motions of pretend they have a team. Opening Day is in 23 days and they have one player signed. Contrast that with Brantford, which already knows its whole starting nine is back!

Anonymous said...

What do they plan on doing with the stadium they now control? Is it concerts -- in the 18 year history of this stadium how many concerts has it hosted? Is it the land, they have a one year lease? So what do they want to do with the stadium?

sager said...

That's the major issue in Ottawa ... two stadiums built on very expensive prime real estate. The land under that ballpark is worth a lot more than said ballpark ... a one-year lease might be a foot in that door.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it.
Minor league baseball has seen its day in Ottawa.
In fact pro baseball in Canada is dead or dying.
Even the future of the Blue Jays looks dim.
No one in their right mind would think low level pro ball
would work here, so there most be some other ulterior motive.
It smells like tere's a land grab in the works, because it seems
like the Fat Cats people are almost intentionally setting this thing up to fail.
I have seen too many con artists come to town, ex, the Gliebermans, to believe other wise.

Anonymous said...

When this fails the city will sell the land to the highest bidder. Then the stadium will be torn down and that will be it. Trying to suggest and connect the dots between those who have a one-year lease and their interest in building a big box store (that's what will be there) makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the rpaids did well attendance wise.I don't think this will work because of the size of the stadium.As for selling it to the highest bidder while i agree with that i think it will eb sold to a local thearter group and used as a out door concert hall.

Jeff said...

If the Fat Cats really want to succeed, they need groups from other closer cities to get on board. Think places like Kingston, Peterborough or Belleville. I believe the Cats are going to be subsidizing travel costs for the other teams in the league since they are so far outside the footprint of the rest of the league (Southwestern Ontario). That is one of the reasons why they are charging so much for tickets. Getting more teams close by would fix that. Rather than having the closest opponent be Barrie.

Lynxfan said...

I'm also a subscriber to the belief that anything that sounds too good to be true is just that. Usually it's a rip off. A 7 day stay at a golf resort in Florida, green fees and cart included with every pair of season tickets? Really? And the lift passes at Tremblant? The "T-66" pass is $299 and the 66 lift tickets are worth $70.35 each for an adult, full day.

Fantastic deals, or is there a catch?

Larry said...

I think there must be a catch with all the "promotional deals" they list. I'm sure I've seen the "golf free if you pay for a cart" deals other places, and the details always make it much less attractive.

I emailed the Fat Cats recently and told them their prices were too high for the product they are offering. I suggested they offer a "no frills" package that has 2 lower bowl season tickets and nothing else (including no free bus rides). This would save the Fat Cats the cost of the promotional fluff (that I don't want - including the free bus rides) without lowering their net revenue, and it wouldn't make a baseball fan pay for something they don't want. I figured they could easily lower the price to $240 for 2 lower bowl season tickets.

The reply I got indicates the Fat Cats don't see things that way. They claim to be trying to attract the non-baseball fan. I say don't make the baseball fan pay for things they don't want.

Anyway, I'll just be getting the flex packs. They seem to be an ok deal. With only 11 game days, getting season tickets is a waste when I know I'm going to miss 3 or 4 of them already.

Also, it would be nice if the Fat Cats would more info on their web site. Such as:

i) actual cost of tickets including taxes

ii) restrictions on all their promotional stuff

iii) the fact that double headers are 7 inning games (which is the way it was for the Lynx and Rapids, but it should still be stated when you are charging different prices for doubleheaders).

I am very skeptical of the Fat Cats owners. I really want baseball to work here (ideally with an indy league team) but these guys could easily put the final nail in the coffin.

Anonymous said...

I've followed this thread somewhat, seems like the only talk about this team in this town, is there a team and have they signed any players?

sager said...

Good question. I put up a post asking as much ... why are they saying they won't have their roster until May 7 when teams are already playing games?

They have announced one signing, and he's a guy in town who played a few seasons ago.