Despite the financial loss and poor performances on the field, the Ottawa Rapidz will be returning for the 2009 baseball season.
Miles Wolff, commissioner of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball League, says the league will take control of the team to begin the season.
Former owner Rob Hall had serious financial troubles at the end of last season and filed for bankruptcy with losses of more than $1 million in September.
“We won’t take care of their debts. Right now the league is going to operate the team until we find a new ownership,” Wolff says.
Attendance for the games was one of the main factors that convinced Wolff to invest in the team.
“Five thousand people showed up at the final game to celebrate an awful team that was at the last place, that’s pretty amazing,” Wolff said during a press conference in Ottawa last month.
“We were very pleased with the attendance last year considering it was just a very bad team and the weather was awful,” he says.
The Can-Am league website says the Rapidz averaged more than 2,000 people for each game last season and sold over 100,000 tickets during the year.
“The league’s commissioner has one person interested from out of town but that person still needs a second partner to finalize the deal. I believe he is from Toronto,” says Orléans councillor Bob Monette, who helped bring the Rapidz to Ottawa two years ago.
Monette sees potential with the team returning.
“The city is exited, we saw the interest of the community,” he says. “I guarantee that I will do everything I can do as a city councillor to make sure that the transition will work smoothly.”
Wolff also says that the league is looking ahead to the future in Ottawa.
“The city has been very cooperative, that’s one of the reasons we are back,” he says.
But ownership changes aren’t the only ones Rapidz fans can expect.
Wolff says only 10 to 12 players from last year’s team will be back and the team’s name may change also.
A new bilingual logo was shown at the press conference. “Rapidz” was spelled “Rapids” and “Rapides” in French.
But even these new spellings are not permanent yet. “The team may not be named the Rapids,” Wolff says.