Frontier League Expands in Canada

FRONTIER LEAGUE WELCOMES OTTAWA FOR 2021 SEASON

September 25, 2020

The Frontier League has announced the granting of an expansion membership to Ottawa, Ontario, to begin play in the 2021 season.  Ottawa becomes the 15th Frontier League team and the third in Canada, joining the Quebec Capitales and Trois-Rivieres Aigles.

The new Ottawa team is operated by Sam Katz and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG).  Sam Katz has a long tenure in baseball, serving as President & CEO of the American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes since their inception for the 1994 season.  Sam was instrumental in building Shaw Park in downtown Winnipeg.  He has won numerous awards, including the Queen’s Jubilee Golden Medal (2002), Distinguished Alumnus from the University of Manitoba (2003), and being named to the Order of Manitoba (2004), the province’s highest award and served as Mayor of Winnipeg from 2004-14.

“Our ownership team is thrilled to be joining the Frontier League,” said Sam Katz.  “For nearly 30 years, the Frontier League has helped set the bar for independent baseball, and we are proud to become a part of its rich history.  We very much look forward to serving the City of Ottawa, and providing our fans affordable, family-friendly entertainment for years to come.”

OSEG owns and operates the Ottawa REDBLACKS Football Club (CFL) and the Ottawa 67’s Hockey Club (OHL), manages and programs events in the TD Place stadium arena complex and manages facilities and maintenance throughout centrally located, 40-acre Lansdowne district.

“The Frontier League is pleased and proud to welcome the City of Ottawa to our League,” said Commissioner Bill Lee.  “Ottawa is a major league city that deserves professional baseball. The ownership group of Sam Katz and OSEG provide great experience in owning and operating sports teams and facilities.”

The new Ottawa team will play out of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park.  Located in the heart of Ottawa, RCGT Park opened for the 1993 season and served as the home of the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx from 1993-2007.  Regan Katz has been named Vice-President for Ottawa and will lead the team’s day-to-day operations, with a goal of having an office open in Ottawa in late October.

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, expressed his excitement for the return of professional baseball.  “As Mayor of the nation’s capital, I am thrilled that the Frontier League is coming to RCGT Park. Ottawa is a great sports city and the new partnership between OSEG and Mr. Katz is exciting news for our growing baseball community. I also want to thank our new partners for their vote of confidence in our City’s economic future and for working with us to finalize a long-term partnership in one of the most challenging economic times in our City’s and country’s history. I look forward to the seasons ahead.”

“The addition of Ottawa is great news for Québec and Trois-Rivieres,” added Michel Laplante, President of the Capitales.  “Not only do we benefit from having a team in our area, but we believe this strong ownership will make the Ottawa market successful and attractive for the possible expansion into greater Montreal.”

Founded for the 1993 season, the Frontier League is the largest and longest running independent professional baseball league.  An official Partner League of Major League Baseball, the Frontier League features 15 clubs stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the Ohio River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  The Frontier League annually moves the most players into Major League Baseball organizations of any of the independent leagues.

Atlantic League, American Association and Frontier League All Form Partnership with MLB

The top three independent leagues are now partner leagues with Major League Baseball.

Earlier this week, the Atlantic League announced their further partnership with the MLB.

ALPB Named First MLB Partner League

September 23, 2020 – Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has named the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) its first “Partner League.”  As a Partner League, ALPB will meet regularly with MLB to discuss joint marketing and promotional opportunities, including the leagues’ shared goal of providing baseball to communities throughout the United States.  This designation expands the current agreement between the leagues, which permits MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during Atlantic League games.  The existing agreement has also been extended through the 2023 season. During the 2019 season, MLB and ALPB partnered to successfully test the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS), which used radar tracking technology to assist home plate umpires in calling balls and strikes.  In addition, the Atlantic League tested rules limiting defensive shifting, mound visits, shortening inning breaks, and larger bases. “We are excited to extend our relationship with the Atlantic League, which provides us a unique means to push the sport forward,” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations. “The Atlantic League clubs and players have been great partners to us as we jointly test ways to make our game even more interesting and engaging to fans.”  “The Atlantic League is inspired by the evolution of its relationship with Major League Baseball and thrilled to be named their first Partner League,” said ALPB President Rick White. “We value MLB’s confidence in ALPB and look forward to advancing our sport together.”  

Today, the American Association and Frontier League followed with announcements of their own.

American Association, Frontier League Designated as Partner Leagues of MLB

September 24, 2020 – Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has named both the American Association and the Frontier League as “Partner Leagues” of MLB. The American Association and the Frontier League join the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB), which was designated a Partner League earlier this week.

As Partner Leagues, the Frontier League and the American Association will collaborate with MLB on initiatives to provide organized baseball to communities throughout the United States and Canada.

Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “We welcome the American Association and Frontier Leagues as Partner Leagues, and look forward to working with them toward our shared goal of expanding the geographic reach of baseball.”

“We look forward to our partnership with MLB incorporating the American Association into the MLB family. To grow America’s Pastime, it’s critical to bring all stakeholders in professional baseball to the table,” said American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub. “We believe this association with Major League Baseball will culminate in a comprehensive agreement that will grow baseball and shine an even brighter light on the American Association. The American Association has already established itself as a premier professional league in North America, this partnership will only enhance the American Association’s stature among the professional baseball world.”

Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee says, “The Frontier League is honored to become a Partner League with Major League Baseball. This partnership will be beneficial in growing our great game of Baseball in all of our United States and Canadian markets. Our teams and fans will all be excited to see the League grow in years to come. The Frontier League began in 1993, to have a relationship with Major League Baseball, is one of the greatest moments in League history.”

This could lead to a major restructuring of professional baseball across America as well as Canada.

MLB Trade Rumors and The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that Minor league team owners who spoke with Drellich expressed trepidation that such partnerships could be used as leverage by MLB in ongoing talks with MiLB about a new Professional Baseball Agreement between the two parties.

It’s also possible that some clubs that are cut in the inevitable, broad-reaching contraction of the lower-level minor leagues could land in the Atlantic League or other newly appointed “partner leagues,” per Drellich. A timeline on additional agreements with the American Association, Frontier League or other indie circuits isn’t clear, but the PBA between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball expires next week.

Writing and sharing stories about Independent Baseball.