Baseball Back In Ottawa
A while ago we wrote about the end of professional baseball in Ottawa. It is now back for the 2008 season in the form of the Can-Am league’s newest team, The Ottawa Rapides.
The Rapides name was chosen from over 1,100 entries in Ottawa’s name-the-team’s contest and is a name that is synonymous with the rich river history of the city.
For centuries the Ottawa River waterway has been one of Canada’s major transportation routes. Extending for over 1,200 km, the river starts far to the northwest at Lake Timiskaming and flows towards Ottawa and joins the St. Lawrence further east in Quebec. The Upper Ottawa River boasts Class III and IV rapids, the biggest whitewaters east of the Rockies. During spring flood, the water pounding down the river rivals some of the world’s big-water rivers.
During its last year in Ottawa, Lynx games averaged less than 2,000 fans in the team’s 10,000 seat Ottawa Stadium during home games at the Queensway and Riverside Drive.
Sliding attendance was blamed in part on poor weather, a lack of parking at the stadium and the team’s poor performance.
Mike Wolff, commissioner of the Can-Am league and president of the Rapids, said he believes there are still thousands of baseball fans in the Ottawa area.
“When the Lynx started, they were drawing 9,000 a game — it was phenomenal,” he said. “You’ve got to think all these fans haven’t died, that there is a base here that we need to bring back, to cultivate, and hopefully we can do it.”
He added that the Rapids’ schedule will help. The Lynx, part of the International League, used to start their season during chilly April, while the Rapids won’t start until late May.
Ed Nottle is the team’s first skipper. Nottle, who has spent his entire adult life in the game as a player, coach and manager, comes to Ottawa via Sioux City, Iowa, where he managed for several years.
And while the Lynx played just one level below the major leagues, the Rapids are firmly in the minors.
The team will play a 94 game schedule with its first home game taking place on May 22nd. The team plays out of the Ottawa Lynx’ old home, Ottawa Stadium.
The Can-Am league consists of teams from Atlantic City, Nashua, Quebec City, Brockton, Sussex, Worcester and New Jersey