Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is hopeful of bringing minor league baseball back to the Nation's Capital, with a Blue Jay connection.
Watson has meetings scheduled with Blue Jays officials in the hopes of convincing the parent club to move its AA affiliate to the likely-to-be-renamed Ottawa Baseball Stadium. Watson also is to meet with officials of the Eastern League, which is said to be quite interested in an Ottawa franchise.
Last September, Ottawa City Council reached an agreement with Beacon Sports Capital Partners on a lease and renovation plan for the stadium that took effect on January 1st of this year. It is believed that Beacon is acting on behalf of Ryan-Sanders Entertainment, which is owned by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and his sons. Ryan-Sanders already owns and operates a Triple A and Double A franchise. Renovations are said to include an updated scoreboard, upgraded locker rooms, less seating, and a larger playground/picnic area.
Although the Jays renewed their player-development contract with their current AA club, the Eastern League's New Hampshire Fisher Cats, for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Watson is eager to establish a formal agreement with the Jays.
According to cbc.ca, Watson said, "We think it would be a win-win situation to have the Jays affiliate with our AA (team)," after a council meeting last night. "Certainly in our discussions with a lot of fans in Ottawa, they think that without the Jays, it wouldn't be a success because you need to have that high-profile and credible organization like the Jays involved."
Ottawa has a lengthy minor league history. The most recent club in be based in Ottawa were the Lynx, which began play in 1993 as a Montreal Expos AAA farm club, playing in the International League. The Lynx also had affiliations with Baltimore and Philadelphia, before being sold and relocated to Allentown, PA, where they have operated since 2007 as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
With the Jays agreement with New Hampshire in place, a move to Ottawa isn't likely until 2015.