This article was written by Steve Rennie
This article was published in the Team Ownership History Project
The story of the Ottawa Lynx baseball team begins in the late 1980s, when Ottawa Mayor Jim Durrell announced his plan to bring Triple-A baseball back to the city after a 34-year absence. He found a valuable ally in local entrepreneur Howard Darwin, who had previously been involved in bringing major junior hockey to Ottawa. Darwin recognized the city’s potential as a sports hub and saw the enthusiastic support for baseball in Ottawa.1 The proposal generated excitement and caught the attention of Minor League Baseball executives, including Harold Cooper, the president of the International League.
Cooper expressed his support for Ottawa at a luncheon during the 1988 winter meetings in Atlanta, where Ottawa’s Triple-A bid was being promoted. However, he emphasized the need for a stadium, declaring, “They have to build one.”2 By all accounts, the trip to Atlanta was a success, with at least two Triple-A club owners showing serious interest in relocating their franchises to Ottawa.3 Darwin’s favorable impression on the owner of the Montreal Expos, Charles Bronfman, during a late-night encounter in the Montreal billionaire’s Atlanta suite, further bolstered Ottawa’s chances. Claude Brochu, the Expos’ president and CEO, and longtime club executive Jim Fanning, who were also present that evening, set the stage for Darwin. “Brochu and Fanning had already talked to Bronfman, suggesting it was a good idea to get Ottawa onside,” Darwin told the Ottawa Citizen. “The Expos were losing a lot of fans in the market to the (Toronto Blue Jays).”4
Back in Ottawa, discussions continued with Brochu regarding the possibility of Ottawa becoming the new home for the Expos’ Triple-A affiliate. This opportunity arose as their agreement with the Indianapolis Indians was set to expire.5 Baseball Canada also expressed interest in having a 10,000-seat stadium in Ottawa as the national training center for Canada’s baseball teams.6
While excitement grew around Ottawa’s pursuit of a Triple-A baseball team, the focus shifted to finding a suitable venue. The city identified two sites owned by the National Capital Commission (NCC), the government agency responsible for federal parks and public spaces in the Ottawa area, but both had drawbacks.7 The Rideau River Park site, previously used as a city dump, would require expensive remediation efforts; and the other site, in the eastern part of the city, lacked accessibility and nearby amenities.
Despite these challenges, Darwin believed that LeBreton Flats, a riverfront site just west of Parliament Hill, was the ideal location for a new ballpark.8 The NCC initially resisted the idea, citing concerns about its impact on existing development plans.9 Darwin’s persistence, along with increasing public support and pressure from Mayor Durrell, eventually led to a reconsideration of LeBreton Flats.10
In March 1989, Darwin attempted to purchase the Oklahoma City 89ers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, for $5 million Canadian (approximately $4 million USD), with the intention of relocating the team to Ottawa for the 1991 season.11 However, the offer was turned down, prompting Darwin to continue his search for another team to buy.12 “My approach is still to get the first team that comes available,” Darwin said during a July 1989 visit to Columbus, Ohio, where he met with executives from Triple-A clubs.13 He remained hopeful that Ottawa could become the farm club for an expansion team.14 Bob Rich, the owner of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons and leader of Buffalo’s bid for a major-league expansion team, suggested the possibility of Ottawa as a potential location for a farm club.15
The stadium issue persisted and caused setbacks in Darwin’s efforts. The city’s stadium feasibility study faced delays, and when it was finally released, city staff recommended the Rideau River Park as the top choice, with a new location, known as Bayview Yards, as a possible alternative.16 However, the city council voted against the stadium, leaving Darwin feeling that the deal he had secured to purchase a team had been sabotaged.17 Disheartened, he threw in the towel. “It’s done and I’m done – that’s all there is to it,” he said. “Now I just want to get on with life and forget it ever happened. Naturally, it was all a big waste of time.”18
With Darwin no longer in the picture, others took up the mantle. Mayors of neighboring municipalities showed keen interest in the idea of bringing professional baseball back to the Ottawa area. Some politicians approached Darwin to see if they could rekindle his interest in a Triple-A franchise, but he chose to stay on the sidelines, bruised by his previous experiences and hesitant to dive back into the world of baseball.19
In the spring of 1990, a now-easily recognizable landmark for Ottawa baseball fans emerged as a highly promising candidate for hosting a Triple-A franchise. The 18-acre property on Coventry Road, situated in the east-end next to the major Highway 417, was a regional snow dump owned by the federal government. A stadium deal began to look increasingly likely, with the city entering into talks with the federal government to buy the land.20 Even Darwin was starting to get back in the fold, his interest piqued by the progress being made in the negotiations. He said he would rejoin the effort to bring a Triple-A team to Ottawa if the city came to him with a stadium deal.21
Darwin invited Randy Mobley, the commissioner of the Triple-A Alliance, to come to Ottawa on the eve of a crucial city council stadium vote to help bolster support for the cause.22 After the city council backed plans for a stadium at the site, Darwin took Mobley to a celebratory lunch and a tour of the Coventry Road location.23
Darwin had previously pursued buying and relocating a team to Ottawa, but now shifted gears to focus on securing an expansion franchise. In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, he stated his lack of interest in acquiring the Denver Zephyrs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.24 Instead, he spent the summer meticulously preparing Ottawa’s 70-plus-page official application for an expansion Triple-A franchise.
Corporate sponsors began to materialize, including Labatt’s Breweries of Canada Ltd., which expressed an interest in getting involved with the prospective franchise in Canada’s capital.25 Momentum was building toward Ottawa’s Triple-A bid. Demonstrating his enthusiasm, Darwin submitted his bid ahead of the 23 other competing groups.26 He was surprised to find out that 19 other cities and groups – including him – had applied, each including a nonrefundable $5,000 (US) application fee. “I’m surprised. No, I’m shocked there’s that many,” Darwin said. “I figured there’d be no more than half that many.”27
Darwin would have to wait until that November to find out if Ottawa’s bid made the shortlist of expansion candidates.
It was a gamble that had consumed Darwin for nearly two years, draining his bank account of more than $100,000 (C) and testing his resolve as a sports entrepreneur. He had staked his reputation and fortune on bringing Triple-A baseball to Ottawa. But as he arrived at the Ramada Inn in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Illinois, he knew that his dream hinged on the next three days. There, in the hotel’s corridors and boardrooms, he would face the final and toughest challenge of his bid: convincing Triple-A executives that Ottawa deserved a franchise.28
Darwin, Durrell, and the rest of the Ottawa contingent gave their all in Rosemont. Their impassioned pitch, lasting an hour, made a lasting impression on the Triple-A expansion committee. Larry Schmittou, the committee chair, expressed his admiration for the Ottawa bid. “The Ottawa bid was very impressive,” he said. “I think if it relied upon the mayor to build a stadium, he’d be out there tomorrow with a shovel.”29
Back in Ottawa, Darwin wasted no time and embarked on a campaign to secure $5 million (C) from private sources by April 1.30 This would coincide with the visit of Triple-A executives to potential expansion cities. He also sought to sell up to 7,500 pledges priced at $25 (C) each, which offered the chance to secure season tickets for Ottawa’s anticipated Triple-A club.31 The response was immediate, with more than 2,000 pledges sold in the first three days, and all 20 private suites were quickly leased for a period of five years.32
The Triple-A expansion committee slowly reduced the number of teams in contention for a franchise. By early April, nine cities remained on the short list: Ottawa; Annapolis, Maryland; South Bend, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; Quad Cities, Illinois/Iowa; Birmingham, Alabama; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.33
Ottawa’s bid encountered a potential setback when city staff cautioned that widening roads and upgrading sewers for the stadium could potentially incur an additional cost of $3 million (C).34 This revelation led to significant concerns among city politicians, with some expressing strong opposition to the increased financial burden.35
In a surprising turn of events, Darwin, who had recently dismissed the idea of pursuing the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, suddenly changed his position.36 He began contemplating the possibility of making a bid for the Omaha Royals of the American Association, deviating from his initial commitment to securing an expansion franchise. Mobley, the Triple-A Alliance commissioner, gave his blessing for Darwin to kick the tires on Omaha while simultaneously continuing to pursue Ottawa’s expansion bid.37
The stage was set for Triple-A’s expansion committee to visit Ottawa on May 31, 1991.38 Schmittou, the chair of the committee, along with other Triple-A officials, arrived in the capital city with a clear message: Ottawa had to demonstrate its ability to finance the $21.6 (C) million stadium.39
Eastern Beverages, a division of Pepsi-Cola Canada Ltd., extended a financial boost to Ottawa by becoming the official soft-drink sponsor for the stadium, contributing a substantial sponsorship amount of $800,000 (C).40
The Triple-A expansion committee named Ottawa as one of its final five expansion candidates, along with Bowie, Maryland (formerly Annapolis), Birmingham, Charlotte, and Tulsa.41 Darwin worked to secure his financing. The city reached an agreement to sell a portion of the 20-acre Coventry Road site to the private sector, generating approximately $4 million (C) in revenue. Additionally, the sale of luxury boxes and in-park advertising brought in over $5 million (C). Meanwhile, Darwin had already pledged to repay $4 million (C) over a 15-year period. It was anticipated that scoreboard advertising and stadium naming rights would contribute an additional $2 million (C).
The Ontario government’s $4 million (C) share stood as the last piece needed to initiate construction on a new stadium.42 The clock was ticking. Triple A gave Ottawa until August 15 to confirm the stadium construction. However, a week before the deadline, the province surprised Ottawa by announcing that its $4 million (C) share would be a loan rather than a grant. This meant that the city would be responsible for repaying the money, which threatened to derail the bid.43 The Ontario government decided to cut its original contribution in half, putting city staff in a scramble to revise the stadium plan just hours before Triple A’s deadline.44 Ottawa managed to meet the deadline by submitting a written commitment to build an $18 million (C) ballpark. However, the scaled-down stadium plans left Triple-A executives disappointed.45 Ottawa’s bid no longer seemed assured.
In a final attempt to keep its bid alive, Ottawa sent a delegation to the Marriott Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, California, where Triple-A executives were gathered for their fall meetings.46 Darwin and others from Ottawa’s contingent socialized with members of the expansion committee during a reception put on by the Triple-A Calgary Cannons, the hosts of the fall meetings. The only other bidders present at the event were from Birmingham.47
Despite all the setbacks and financial challenges over the previous three years, Darwin’s relentless pursuit of a Triple-A franchise finally paid off. On September 28, 1991, the expansion committee granted franchises to Ottawa and Charlotte for the 1993 season.48 An emotional Darwin reflected on the accomplishment. “It was emotion more than excitement,” he told the Ottawa Citizen. “I said all along if somebody could convince me Triple-A baseball was bad for Ottawa, I’d step aside and call it quits. No one did.”49
Having secured his Triple-A franchise, which would eventually play in the International League, Darwin now turned his attention to building his fledgling, yet-unnamed team. The expenses associated with running the ballclub were becoming apparent, and they were considerable. As per the regulations, Major League Baseball required all minor-league clubs to contribute 5 percent of their gate revenues, with a minimum contribution of $1.5 million (US) in 1991. This amount would increase to $1.75 million (US) in 1993, when Ottawa was to begin play, and further rise to $2 million (C) in 1994. Darwin would also be responsible for covering the expenses of a 30-person traveling party.50
One of Darwin’s first orders of business was naming the new ballclub. He chose the name Ottawa Lynx from a pool of 35,000 fan suggestions.51 Next, Darwin hired 34-year-old Tom Maloney – fresh from being named The Sporting News’ 1991 Minor-League Executive of the Year – as his general manager.52 Darwin was drawn to Maloney’s previous expertise in securing broadcasting deals during his time with the Denver Zephyrs. Maloney wasted no time in trying to put together a radio and television package for the Lynx. “Radio is essential to any ball club,” he told the Ottawa Citizen. “We have to maximize all revenue streams and radio and television are certainly two big areas. They are also two great marketing tools.”53
Maloney’s hire doubled the size of Ottawa’s front office – the only other employee at the time was Darwin’s daughter, Nancy, who served as the club’s interim director of operations.54
The ballclub wrote to the 6,000 fans who paid $25 (C) apiece to have priority access to season tickets for the Lynx’s first season.55 Season tickets to the 71 home games were priced between $298.20 and $596.40 (C), while single-game tickets were available from $4 to $8 (C).56 The club opted to reserve 2,500 seats in the 10,000-seat ballpark to sell in groups or packages.
Construction started in June 1992, leaving a mere nine months until Opening Day.57 Even before the first shovel was in the ground, the club had sold nearly 4,000 season tickets. Maloney had his sights set on selling 7,500.
In September 1992 the Lynx made another significant off-field move by becoming the Triple-A affiliate of the Montreal Expos.58 Maloney secured a deal with local television station CHRO to broadcast 30 games throughout the Lynx’ first season. Selling radio rights to Lynx games, however, proved more challenging.59 The club eventually sold its French-language radio rights to CKCH-AM, which already broadcast Expos games.60
For their stadium dining experience, the club drew inspiration from the Blue Jays, who operated the Hard Rock Café and Windows restaurants at the SkyDome. These establishments welcomed patrons to dine by paying a small cover charge, without the need to purchase a game ticket. Emulating this successful model, the Lynx opened Tufts restaurant to the public. With a captivating view of the field, diners could enjoy food and drinks by paying a cover charge during ballgames.61
The Lynx experienced a vibrant atmosphere in their inaugural home game, on April 17, 1993, as they welcomed the Charlotte Knights, another expansion team, to what was then called the Multi-Purpose Recreational Facility.62 The ballpark was packed with 10,332 enthusiastic fans, who watched Charlotte defeat the Lynx, 4-3. Throughout that season, the Lynx maintained a commendable average attendance of 9,772, and concluded the season with a respectable record of 73-69.
However, the following years witnessed a decline in the team’s popularity. In 1994 the average attendance dropped to 8,929, and this downward trend persisted in 1995 – the year that Ottawa won its first and only league championship – when the team attracted an average of 6,888 per game.63
A few theories seek to explain the decline in attendance. Ottawa has traditionally been more of a hockey town than a baseball one. When the NHL Senators played in April and May, many fans opted to attend the hockey games instead of supporting the Lynx. This was especially true at the beginning of the Triple-A season in Ottawa, where the weather could be harsh and downright frigid. The Ottawa Citizen offered another two possible reasons for the decline. “Fans didn’t seem to understand that the Lynx were a feeder team, and that the parent club, the Montreal Expos, would always be stealing their best players. The homestands were too long, too.”64 Some people argued that the Expos’ limited spending resulted in lower-quality players in their farm club.65
By 1999 the Lynx’s average attendance plummeted to a mere 2,789 fans per game, leading Darwin to look for potential buyers for the team. The diminishing attendance figures directly correlated with the team’s on-field performance. Following their Governor’s Cup victory in 1995, the Lynx never finished higher than fourth place from 1996 to 2000.
Later it was claimed that the club had been neglecting its sponsors, especially when attendance dropped and their investment didn’t bring in as much exposure.66 This left some members of the city’s business community feeling unappreciated, causing them to question whether they should keep supporting the club.
The Pecor Era (2000-2006)
In the spring of 2000, Ray Pecor, a prosperous Vermont businessman, emerged as a promising candidate to purchase the team. Darwin said that Pecor, who built his fortune as the owner of a successful ferry company, first approached him in August 1999 to explore a potential sale. He claimed that Pecor, who also owned the Montreal Expos’ Class A affiliate in Vermont, was “one of the nine people who have shown interest” in purchasing the Lynx. Darwin set the asking price for the ballclub at $10 million (C), according to the Ottawa Citizen.67
Pecor soon emerged as the front-runner to buy the team. Two major obstacles stood in the way of a sale. The first, which was relatively easy to overcome, involved getting the approval of the International League, minor-league baseball owners and the baseball commissioner’s office. The second and more challenging one was to work out new financial arrangements with the city. Darwin said he had paid the city a half-million dollars in 1999 to use the ballpark – now called JetForm Park – and he and Pecor wanted to lower that to a base rent plus a share of the attendance revenue.68
The city council agreed to review the lease terms, and Darwin and Pecor reached a tentative deal. They agreed that Darwin would retain a 25 percent stake in the Lynx, while Pecor would acquire the rest. Pecor also pledged to keep the team in the city for at least five years, and to cover the outstanding $2.8 million (C) debt on the ballpark if he relocated the team before the lease expired in 2009. The city agreed to lower the rent to $108,000 (C) a season, along with taking a cut of the club’s ticket sales.69
Pecor’s purchase of the team was approved by the International League during a half-hour conference call on the morning of May 26, 2000. “I’m proud to have brought baseball to Ottawa, but it’s time to move and get new blood,” Darwin told the Ottawa Citizen. “I’m very pleased that the club is staying in Ottawa and I want it to be successful.”70
On June 19, 2000, Pecor acquired majority ownership of the Lynx for approximately $7 million (US). This investment also granted Pecor the rights to operate and manage JetForm Park through a renegotiated lease agreement with the city. As part of the agreement, Darwin would maintain his 25 percent stake in the team until January 1, 2001. At the start of the new year, Darwin sold his remaining shares to Pecor for an undisclosed amount. The new owner wasted no time beefing up the team’s marketing staff, adding two new salespeople, and setting his sights on Ottawa’s business community as well as potential fans across the Ottawa River in the neighboring province of Quebec.71 Pecor also swiftly reduced parking fees from $5.50 to $2 (C).72
He and new general manager Kyle Bostwick also sought to put some distance between the new regime and the old one. They retired the team’s popular mascot, Lenny the Lynx, changed the club’s uniforms, and adopted an aggressive new logo.73 “This season we will have an opportunity to put our stamp on the club,” Pecor told the Ottawa Citizen in November 2000.74 Changing the team’s moniker wasn’t on the table. “We didn’t want to change the name because people like the name and it was chosen by the people of Ottawa,” Bostwick told the Citizen. “But we wanted to get rid of any association with any bad experiences people might have had in the past. We want to start fresh.”75
The new owner was not immediately embraced by Ottawa’s business community. Bostwick lamented to the Citizen that his four-person sales team often couldn’t get their phone calls returned. “We have to convince them we’re not the same team,” he said.76
The Lynx finished Pecor’s first full season as the owner with a 68-76 record, their sixth consecutive losing campaign. They also averaged the lowest attendance in the 14-team league, with 2,944 fans per game. Every other team drew at least 4,000 on average. Bostwick confirmed to the Citizen that the club lost money, but he did not disclose the amount. Some of those losses resulted from one-time spending to upgrade the ballpark’s luxury boxes and buying new food-preparation equipment after the team took over concession sales. Bostwick also said the club increased its marketing budget to record levels.77 Pecor later claimed he was losing $1 million (C) a year on the team.78
At the beginning of the 2002 season, Pecor issued a statement warning that relocation might be necessary if the team couldn’t attract a minimum of 4,000 fans per game. Mobley, the president of the International League, expressed his disappointment regarding the Lynx’s attendance. While Mobley acknowledged the efforts of Bostwick and his staff, he emphasized the need for improved attendance. “We need to start seeing some results, beginning with this month and on through the summer,” he said. “If that doesn’t happen, I’m sure Pecor and I will be sitting down to see where things are.”79 A few months later, Pecor offered a glimpse of the club’s financial situation. “It’s not going to be $300,000 or $400,000 (C),” he said of the team’s projected losses. “It’s going to be substantial.”80
In August, Mobley traveled to Ottawa to meet with Pecor and Bostwick at the ballpark, with the team’s attendance as the main focus of the agenda.81 Mobley didn’t mince words about the possibility of the team leaving Ottawa if the crowds didn’t improve. “We’ve got a situation here where (Pecor) is losing millions of dollars,” he said. “That’s not a good situation for a man or for a league. There needs to be a reason to stay here, and right now that’s not being demonstrated.”82
With the specter of relocation hanging over the Lynx, the team severed its 10-year relationship with the Expos in September 2002 and signed a two-year agreement with the Baltimore Orioles.83 That prompted speculation the Lynx would move after the 2003 season.84 Mobley openly mused about relocation. “We’re looking at better options,” he said in June 2003. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything different (from last year). We have to be realistic. I guess, if something miraculous happened, it could change, but I would say the clock is probably ticking. We’re looking through different scenarios right now.”85
Running the team was costing Pecor around $3 million (C) annually, and he estimated he was losing between $700,000 and $1 million (C) a year.86 In order to make a profit, the Lynx needed to attract approximately 4,500 fans per game. Even though he was losing money, Pecor raised the team’s marketing budget to $300,000 (C) for the 2004 season, aiming to draw an average of 5,000 fans per game.87
However, average attendance continued to hover around the 2,100 mark, nearly identical to the team’s levels at the tail end of Darwin’s ownership.88 Pecor approached the city about changing the terms of the stadium lease to allow for other events.89 He ruled out hosting concerts due to concerns about potential noise complaints, but suggested that a temporary dome in the winter could allow for events during the offseason. City officials speculated that Pecor had intentions of selling the Triple-A team and seeking an independent replacement for the stadium.90 That left questions around what would happen if it lost its main tenant. The land surrounding the stadium was appraised at approximately $5.6 million (C) by the city, while the estimated cost to replace the stadium was set at $20 million (C).91
Meanwhile, rumors began circulating that the Orioles were considering purchasing the team and moving it to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.92 The city had caught Pecor’s attention as a possible future home for the Lynx. Nevertheless, it seemed likely that the Lynx would return to Ottawa for the 2005 season.
However, during the summer of 2005, reports started surfacing indicating that US sports entrepreneurs Joseph Finley and Craig Stein, who between them owned three other minor-league ballclubs, had intentions to acquire the Lynx.93 Their plan was to move the team to Allentown, Pennsylvania, with the relocation scheduled for the 2008 season.94
The credibility of these reports seemed to gain weight when, in early July, the Pennsylvania legislature voted in favor of financing the debt for a new stadium in Allentown, projected to cost approximately $34.3 million (US), through an increase to the state’s hotel tax.95 Pecor maintained that he wanted to keep the team in Ottawa, but he made it clear that relocation remained a possibility if attendance didn’t improve.96
In December, Finley and Stein took a significant step by putting down a $750,000 (US) nonrefundable deposit through their company, Gracie Baseball, to secure a Triple-A ballclub.97 They also agreed contribute $1.35 million (US) to a capital fund designated for significant repairs and miscellaneous expenses, to be paid over a span of 29 years. The state, which had already agreed to contribute $12 million (US) toward the $34 million (US) stadium, upped its share by an additional $5 million (US), bringing its commitment to the project to $17 million (US).98 All signs seemed to be pointing to the Lynx moving south of the border.
Joseph Finley and Craig Stein (2006-2008)
In June 2006, news outlets in Pennsylvania reported that Stein and Finley had acquired the Lynx as part of a complex farm-club exchange between the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles.99 The news coincided with city officials in Allentown giving their approval for the construction of a $34 million (US) ballpark, which was scheduled to be completed in time for the 2008 season.100 Both the Lynx and the International League denied the reports of a sale.101
Throughout the 2006 season, the Lynx consistently struggled with the lowest attendance in the league.102 Uncertainty loomed over the team’s future as Pecor stated that the Lynx would continue playing in Ottawa for the 2007 season, but he offered no guarantees beyond that. Tensions heightened after a meeting between Pecor and Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli on August 24, 2006, to discuss the parking situation at the stadium.103 Pecor vehemently denied reports suggesting that he had informed the city about the Lynx’s impending departure.
He sold the team four days later.104
Under the terms of the deal, Finley and Stein would become majority owners of the team, with Pecor retaining an undisclosed minority stake.105 Although the move to Pennsylvania wasn’t made official until nearly a year later, the ballclub would remain in Ottawa for the 2007 season before moving to the newly built 7,000-seat stadium in Allentown in 2008 to become the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The team also signed a two-year deal to become the Phillies’ farm club after the Orioles ended their affiliation with the Lynx in favor of the Norfolk Tides.106
The City of Ottawa and Pecor wasted no time engaging in legal and financial wrangling shortly after news of the sale broke. Chiarelli contended that Pecor still owed the city nearly $3 million (C) in assumed debt from the club’s purchase from Darwin.107 Pecor shot back, suing the city for $10.7 million (C), arguing that between 1998 and 2000, hundreds of parking spaces were sold and not replaced, leading to insufficient parking at the stadium and contributing to the team’s poor attendance.108 Pecor also asserted that he shouldn’t have to pay a $200,000 (C) penalty for leaving Ottawa before his lease expired in 2009. The city counter-sued for $2.7 million (C).109 Pecor later offered to drop the lawsuit if the city agreed to waive its claim.110
The 2007 season ended without any official notice to the city about the Lynx’s plan to move to Allentown. This created a predicament for the Can-Am league (Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball), which had expressed an interest in fielding a team at the stadium once the Lynx relocated to Pennsylvania.111 But the league needed to know if the stadium would be available for the 2008 season so it could announce its schedule at the end of October 2007. Can-Am Commissioner Miles Wolff met with city officials and Lynx GM Bostwick to discuss the league’s proposal for a new team in Ottawa.112 The Lynx offered stadium assets worth nearly $1 million (C) to the city if it dropped the lawsuit. Otherwise, the team planned to sell off the assets themselves. Neither side budged. The city set a deadline for the Lynx to provide written notice of their departure by October 5, or else it would be assumed that the team intended to play in Ottawa for the 2008 season. That deadline came and went without a response from the Lynx.113
The city agreed to let the Can-Am league take over the Lynx’s remaining two lease seasons, allowing the team to move to Allentown and rebrand as the IronPigs.114 While this arrangement removed any penalties for Pecor’s early departure of the Lynx before the lease ended, the city still expected him to repay the outstanding $3 million (C) debt.
Ottawa’s Can-Am franchise, the Rapidz, had a short-lived existence, playing only one season. They finished last in the standings and accumulated a debt of $1.4 million (C) owed to about 150 creditors.115 The club claimed that the city wanted to increase its yearly rent tenfold, from $108,000 to $1.1 million (C), once the Lynx’s original lease expired at the end of the 2009 season. Wolff was hopeful that Can-Am baseball could come back to Ottawa in 2009. He noted that the Rapidz generated approximately $1.5 million (C) in revenue during their sole season.116
The city and Pecor settled their lawsuit in 2011, with the former Lynx owner agreeing to pay $1.95 million (C).117 However, the legal dispute stemming from the Lynx situation continued with another team. The owners of the Rapidz filed a $3 million (C) lawsuit against both the city and the Can-Am League. The Rapidz took their case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld the lower court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit.118
The departure of the Lynx marked the end of an era for baseball in Ottawa. However, the city’s love for the sport endured. Following the void left by the Lynx, Ottawa welcomed a succession of new teams, including the latest addition of a Frontier League team, the Titans, representing the fourth franchise to call the capital home since the Lynx’s departure. Meanwhile, under the ownership of Finley and Stein, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs continue to flourish, ensuring that Ottawa’s baseball legacy remains alive and well.
Ottawa’s commitment to the game goes beyond memories of the Lynx. The city’s collective passion and unwavering support fuel the sport’s growth. Whether reminiscing about the historic era or celebrating the current achievements of the Frontier League team, Ottawa’s love for baseball continues to resonate throughout the community. This commitment ensures that the sights and sounds of baseball will continue to be enjoyed by fans throughout the city for years to come, creating lasting memories and uniting them in their shared passion for the game.
1 Don Campbell, “Darwin’s Field of Dreams,” Ottawa Citizen, July 5, 1990.
2 Don Campbell, “Triple A Pitch Strikes the Right Note,” Ottawa Citizen, December 5, 1988.
3 Don Campbell, “Two Baseball Clubs Eye Ottawa as Triple-A Site,” Ottawa Citizen, December 6, 1988.
4 Wayne Scanlan, “Darwin’s Dream Becoming a Reality,” Ottawa Citizen, September 23, 1992.
5 “Two Baseball Clubs Eye Ottawa as Triple-A Site.”
6 Don Campbell, “Interest in Proposed Baseball Stadium as National Training Base,” Ottawa Citizen, January 19, 1989
7 Jack Aubry, “Ottawa Urged to Look at 2 Sites for Ball Stadium,” Ottawa Citizen, January 21, 1989.
8 Lynn McAuley, “Will Ottawa strike out?” Ottawa Citizen, February 7, 1989.
9 Jack Aubry, “Flats Stadium ‘Nonsense,’ Says Planner,” Ottawa Citizen, February 13, 1989.
10 Doug Yonson and Jack Aubry, “Pigott Might Reconsider Lebreton Ballpark Stand,” Ottawa Citizen, March 1, 1989.
11 Don Campbell, “Darwin Offers $5M for Triple-A Club,” Ottawa Citizen, March 8, 1989.
12 Don Campbell. “Triple-A Bid Rejected, Darwin Still Looking,” Ottawa Citizen, April 10, 1989.
13 Don Campbell, “Ottawa Club Hunters Stalk Triple-A Team,” Ottawa Citizen, July 11, 1989.
14 Don Campbell. “Head-Start Expansion Plan Buoys Ottawa Hopes,” Ottawa Citizen, July 12, 1989.
15 Don Campbell, “Ottawa Appeals to Buffalo Rich,” Ottawa Citizen, July 14, 1989.
16 Jack Aubry and Ron Eade, “Ottawa Staff Pitches Bayview Area as Site for Baseball Stadium,” Ottawa Citizen, November 23, 1989.
17 Ron Eade and Don Campbell, “Struck Out: Council Rejects Ballpark Study,” Ottawa Citizen, December 7, 1989.
18 Don Campbell, “Darwin: ‘I’m done,’” Ottawa Citizen, December 21, 1989.
19 Carrie Buchanan, “Nepean Eyes Triple-A Ball,” Ottawa Citizen, December 23, 1989.
20 Ron Eade, “East-End Site Being Eyed for Ballpark?” Ottawa Citizen, March 15, 1990.
21 Ron Eade, “Snow Dump Top Ball Site,” Ottawa Citizen, April 7, 1990.
22 Jack Aubry, “Stadium Approval Appears Assured,” Ottawa Citizen, June 28, 1990; Don Campbell, “Triple-A Official Checks Out Site,” Ottawa Citizen, June 27, 1990.
23 Don Campbell, “Howard Darwin Happy with His Triple-A Field of Dreams,” Ottawa Citizen, June 28, 1990.
24 “Howard Darwin Happy with His Triple-A Field of Dreams.”
25 Doug Kelly, “Labatt’s May Back Triple-A Team,” Ottawa Citizen, July 24, 1990.
26 Don Campbell, “Ottawa’s Triple-A Bid Outraces Opposition,” Ottawa Citizen, September 13, 1990.
27 Don Campbell, “19 Bids for Triple-A Franchises Shock Darwin,” Ottawa Citizen, September 18, 1990.
28 Don Campbell, “Darwin Strides to the Plate,” Ottawa Citizen, November 13, 1990.
29 Don Campbell, “Lack of Stadium Main Drawback in Triple-A Pitch,” Ottawa Citizen, November 16, 1990.
30 Wayne Scanlan, “Darwin’s Still in There Swinging,” Ottawa Citizen, February 3, 1991.
31 “Darwin’s Still in There Swinging”; Ron Eade, “Darwin Will Sell Triple-A Coupons,” Ottawa Citizen, January 29, 1991.
32 Don Campbell, “Triple-A Pledges Pour In,” Ottawa Citizen, February 12, 1991; Tom Spears, “Suites for Proposed Stadium Are Leased,” Ottawa Citizen, March 17, 1991.
33 Don Campbell, “Ottawa Bid for Triple-A Survives Cut.” Ottawa Citizen, April 2, 1991.
34 Ron Eade, “Triple-A Stadium Costs May Rise,” Ottawa Citizen, April 9, 1991.
35 Ron Eade, “Public Costs for Stadium Anger Aldermen,” Ottawa Citizen, April 10, 1991.
36 Don Campbell, “Darwin Committed to Expansion,” Ottawa Citizen, April 12, 1991.
37 Don Campbell, “Darwin Taking 2nd Look at Buying Omaha Royals,” Ottawa Citizen, April 19.
38 Don Campbell, “Triple-A Officials to Visit Ottawa,” Ottawa Citizen, April 30, 1991.
39 Martin Cleary and Ron Eade, “Triple-A Bid Needs Bucks,” Ottawa Citizen, June 1, 1991.
40 “Triple-A Bid Needs Bucks.”
41 Don Campbell, “Ottawa Bid One of Final 5 for Triple-A,” Ottawa Citizen, June 25, 1991.
42 Tom Casey, “Darwin Confident Ottawa Bid Will Result in Triple-A Fanchise,” Ottawa Citizen, July 16, 1991.
43 Ron Eade, “Baseball Franchise in Jeopardy,” Ottawa Citizen, August 9, 1991.
44 Ron Eade, “Ottawa Likely to Scale Down Ballpark Plans,” Ottawa Citizen, August 15, 1991.
45 Wayne Scanlan, “Committee to Reassess Ottawa Bid,” Ottawa Citizen, August 16, 1991.
46 Don Campbell, “Ottawa Still Alive for Triple A Franchise,” Ottawa Citizen, September 20, 1991.
47 Don Campbell, “Ottawa Bid Seems Assured,” Ottawa Citizen, September 28, 1991.
48 Don Campbell, “Victory at Last for Darwin,” Ottawa Citizen, September 29, 1991.
49 Don Campbell, “Baseball Is Back,” Ottawa Citizen, September 29, 1991.
50 Don Campbell. “What to Look for in a Triple-A Baseball Team,” Ottawa Citizen, October 1, 1991.
51 Don Campbell, “The Ottawa Lynx: The Animal Behind the Name,” Ottawa Citizen, March 17, 1992.
52 Don Campbell, “Track Record Led Darwin to Hunt Maloney for Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, April 2, 1992.
53 Don Campbell, “Local Radio Broadcasts High on GM’s Agenda,” Ottawa Citizen, April 3, 1992.
54 Don Campbell, “Maloney Will ‘Sell’ the Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, March 31, 1992.
55 Ken Warren, “Lynx Set to Start Selling to Fans,” Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 1992.
56 Michael Prentice, “Lynx Tickets Hot Commodity,” Ottawa Citizen, June 5, 1992.
57 Michael Prentice, “Work Starts on Triple-A Stadium,” Ottawa Citizen, June 19, 1992.
58 Ken Warren, “Linking Up with Expos for Triple-A,” Ottawa Citizen, September 22, 1992.
59 Ken Warren, “Lynx Close to TV Package,” Ottawa Citizen, January 7, 1993.
60 “Radio Seal,” Ottawa Citizen, January 27, 1993.
61 Michael Prentice, “Dining Is in style at Lynx Games,” Ottawa Citizen, March 15, 1993.
62 Jay Stone, “Baseball Opener High Culture,” Ottawa Citizen, April 19, 1993.
63 Roger Collier, “A Farewell to the Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, September 2, 2007.
64 “A Farewell to the Lynx.”
65 Bruce Deachman, “End of a Lost Season,” Ottawa Citizen, September 5, 2000.
66 Wayne Scanlan, “New Owner Finds Promoting Lynx a Tough Sales Pitch,” Ottawa Citizen, January 11, 2001.
67 Bruce Deachman, “Lynx Find Tentative Buyer,” Ottawa Citizen, April 12, 2000.
68 Tom Casey, “Two Hurdles to Lynx Sale,” Ottawa Citizen, April 26, 2000.
69 Tom Casey, “Darwin a Step Closer to Selling Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, May 12, 2000; Casey, “Council OK’s New Lease for Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, May 18, 2000.
70 Tom Casey, “Red Wings Pick on Powell for Eight Runs Against Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2000; Casey, “IL Approves Sale of Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, May 27, 2000.
71 Tom Casey, “It’s Pecor’s Ballgame Now,” Ottawa Citizen, June 20, 2000.
72 Tom Casey, “Front Office Busy with Lynx Away,” Ottawa Citizen, June 23, 2000.
73 Darren Desaulniers, “Lynx to Retire Mascot,” Ottawa Citizen, August 31, 2000; Bruce Deachman, “End of a Lost Season,” Ottawa Citizen, September 5, 2000; Tom Casey, “Lynx Logo Acquires an Attitude,” Ottawa Citizen, November 4, 2000.
74 Tom Casey, “Lynx Owner Eager to Put Own Stamp on Team,” Ottawa Citizen, November 9, 2000.
75 “End of a lost season.”
76 Wayne Scanlan, “New Owner Finds Promoting Lynx a Tough Sales Pitch,” Ottawa Citizen, January 11, 2001.
77 Tom Casey, “Lynx Finish Up-Down Year,” Ottawa Citizen, September 4, 2001.
78 Tom Casey, “Lynx Owner Doesn’t Let Empty Seats Get Him Down,” Ottawa Citizen, April 17, 2003.
79 Tom Casey, “Attendance Key to Lynx Future,” Ottawa Citizen, May 4, 2002.
80 Darren Desaulniers, “Poor Attendance ‘Disappoints’ Pecor,” Ottawa Citizen, June 18, 2002.
81 Tom Casey, “Lynx Brass, League to Fix on Future,” Ottawa Citizen, August 15, 2002.
82 Ken Warren, “‘Use It or Lose It,’ Lynx Fans,” Ottawa Citizen, August 22, 2002.
83 Tom Casey, “Adieu, Expos, Hello Orioles,” Ottawa Citizen, September 24, 2002.
84 “Orioles Not Singing Ottawa’s Praises,” Ottawa Citizen, September 26, 2002.
85 Ken Warren. “IL President Doubts Lynx Can Survive,” Ottawa Citizen, June 20, 2003.
86 Ken Warren, “Let’s Play Two to Open at Home,” Ottawa Citizen, April 16, 2005; Warren, “Lynx Here to Stay … for Now,” Ottawa Citizen, June 7, 2005.
87 Matthew Sekeres, “Options Are Many for Lynx Manager,” Ottawa Citizen, April 7, 2004.
88 Hugh Adami, “’Eventually, I’ll Run Out of Money,’” Ottawa Citizen, July 24, 2004.
89 Hugh Adami, “Lynx Make Pitch for Rent Relief,” Ottawa Citizen, July 20, 2004.
90 Ken Gray, “Lynx Ready to Run, Insiders Fear,” Ottawa Citizen, September 1, 2004.
91 Ken Warren, “U.S. Buyers Poised to Snatch Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, July 1, 2005.
92 “Lynx Ready to Run, Insiders Fear.”
93 Candus Thomson, “O’s Affiliate to Allentown?” Baltimore Sun, July 2, 2005; Dan Sheehan, “Ball Club Owner Weighs In on Rumors,” Allentown (Pennsylvania) Morning Call, July 2, 2005.
94 “U.S. Buyers Poised to Snatch Lynx.”
95 “Lynx Move Nearer Ottawa Exit,” Ottawa Citizen, July 2, 2005; “U.S. Ballpark Deal Could Set Stage for Purchase of Lynx,” Ottawa Citizen, July 3, 2005; John L. Micek, “House Approves Hotel Tax Hike to Help Pay for Ballpark,” Allentown Morning Call, July 3, 2005.
96 Chris Birk, “Future of Red Barons in Our Region Uncertain,” Citizens’ Voice, November 14, 2005.
97 Daniel Patrick Sheehan, “Money Mounts for Lehigh Valley Minor League Baseball.” Allentown Morning Call, December 14, 2005.
98 Romy Varghese, “Minor League Ballpark Gets Nod from Allentown Planning Board,” Allentown Morning Call, June 14, 2006; “Money Mounts for Lehigh Valley Minor League Baseball.”
99 “Phillies Make It Official, Leaving Scranton,” Press Enterprise, June 11, 2006; Romy Varghese, “Planning Unit Gives Thumbs Up to Allentown Stadium,” Allentown Morning Call, June 14, 2006; Ray Saul, “ASA Softball Complex Impresses PIAA Officials and Fans,” Standard-Speaker, June 13, 2006.
100 Romy Varghese, “Planners Support Stadium,” Allentown Morning Call, June 14, 2006.
101 Don Campbell, “‘There Is No Sale Agreement,’” Ottawa Citizen, June 13, 2006.
102 Ken Warren, “Lynx Need Fan ‘Miracle,’” Ottawa Citizen, August 25, 2006.
103 Matthew Sekeres, “Lynx Sue Ottawa for $10.75M Over Parking,” Ottawa Citizen, October 18, 2006.
104 Ken Warren and Vito Pilieci, “Lynx Are Outta Here: Team Sold, Will Move to U.S.,” Ottawa Citizen, August 29, 2006.
105 Jay Hart, “Grand Slam Dunk,” Allentown Morning Call, August 29, 2006.
106 Darren Desaulniers, “Lynx Affiliation with Phillies Hits Pitchers,” Ottawa Citizen, September 28, 2006.
107 Vito Pilieci, “Mayor Says Lynx Owner Owes City $3M,” Ottawa Citizen, August 31, 2006.
108 “Lynx Sue Ottawa for $10.75M Over Parking.”
109 Joanne Chianello, “City Wins Legal Battle Against Former Lynx Owner Pecor,” Ottawa Citizen, March 18, 2011.
110 Darren Desaulniers, “Can-Am Talks with City Can’t Go into Extra Innings,” Ottawa Citizen, October 2, 2007.
111 Darren Desaulniers, “Fans Pitch In to Keep Baseball at Lynx Stadium,” Ottawa Citizen, September 2, 2007.
112 “Can-Am Talks with city Can’t Go into Extra Innings,” Ottawa Citizen, October 2, 2007.
113 Don Campbell, “Lynx Don’t Budge at City Deadline,” Ottawa Citizen, October 6, 2007.
114 Laura Drake and Don Campbell, “Pro Baseball Will Be Back at Lynx Stadium in ’08,” Ottawa Citizen, November 29, 2007.
115 Don Campbell, “Rapidz Out at Home After One Season,” Ottawa Citizen, September 30, 2008; Don Campbell, “City Would Only Go to 5 years, Rapidz Say,” Ottawa Citizen, October 1, 2008.
116 Don Campbell, “Can-Am league Still Up for Ottawa Challenge,” Ottawa Citizen, November 20, 2008.
117 Joanne Chianello, “City Wins Legal Battle Against Former Lynx Owner Pecor.”
118 Momentous.ca Corporation, et al. v. Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball Ltd., et al.,  3 S.C.R. 694, 2011 SCC 63, available at: https://www.scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/info/sum-som-eng.aspx?cas=33999 (last visited June 23, 2023).