Some concerning omens appeared at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Stadium, home of the Can-Am baseball league Ottawa Champions on Coventry Road.
The Champions (why play the games if they are already the champions of the Can-Am League or American Association or whatever independent ball they’re in?) drew an average of 2,815 over the first three nights of the season against the Sussex County Miners (whoever they are).
Now the caveats. Yes it was cold the first two nights and on Sunday the game was up against the Ottawa Marathon that took ten of thousands of people out of the ticket walk-up as either participants, volunteers or spectators of the race. The marathon also turned Ottawa traffic into a shambles making accessing the stadium a bit of a challenge.
That said, the Champions will face bad weather a number of times this summer and will be up against the Redblacks, the Fury and all the summer festivals for fan dollars.
Opening day, in terrible weather, drew only 3,876 spectators in a 10,000-seat stadium. Traditionally, opening day is a huge crowd in many levels of baseball, bad weather or not. Worse was 2,418 fans on a beautiful Sunday.
The team says it needs 3,500 to 4,000 fans a game to be successful.
Bad weather, marathon competition and hideous traffic aside, the Champions drew an average 2,815 fans for opening weekend. Bad sign. The bottom line doesn’t care about excuses.
What happens in July and August when the Redblacks are playing, families are at the cottage, the bike paths beckon and the summer festivals heat up?
Fireballing right-hander Jim Watson was out for a first-pitch ceremony (would he miss a party? All that was missing was home baking. The question is: Will Watson attend another game this summer?). His Worship is in a win-win situation for himself.
The losers will be the fans who get the lowest level of organized pro baseball or no stadium at all.
So opening weekend was not a good sign.
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