Double play for Rapids: Baseball club to change hands

By KRYSTLE CHOW
Published on the front page of the Ottawa Business Journal and on its website.
April 28, 2008

Click here to view this article on OttawaBusinessJournal.com.

Dot-com businessmen Rick Anderson and Rob Hall are expected to announce this week that they will buy Ottawa’s new professional baseball club.

The purchase precedes the Ottawa Rapids’ first exhibition game against the New Jersey Jackals on May 22.

Mr. Anderson, of Zip.ca, did not directly confirm the acquisition when the OBJ contacted him on April 24, but said: “The first time we met with Miles (Wolff, the Can-Am League commissioner) and he talked about bringing Can-Am back, we immediately told him we’d be supportive as advertisers and sponsors, and we have.”

Mr. Anderson, who is a confessed baseball fan, said he “grew up in the left-field bleachers in Jarry Park” in Montreal.

Mr. Wolff said one of the goals for the team from day one has been to find local ownership and plant the team’s roots firmly in the Ottawa community.

“We think it’s very close to happening for the team … it’s been what the league has been looking for for the last six months,” said Mr. Wolff. “I think a lot of people in Ottawa didn’t feel the Lynx were their team, and it’s important that fans feel they own the team. A local owner helps with that, and they would have much better business connections and could get corporate support.”

Mr. Anderson expressed his support for the Rapids, saying, “Baseball has a strong history in Ottawa going back to the 1930s and earlier, and will have a bright future if approached properly, and we think the Can-Am approach is very well-suited to Ottawa.”

Mr. Anderson said Zip liked Can-Am’s condensed May 22 to September 1 season, “when the weather is delightful,” the league’s orientation towards players more likely to stay for a longer period of time and play “for the love of the game,” and its affordable, family-oriented approach.

The pair are heavily involved in the local and national high-tech and political scenes: Mr. Anderson is the CEO of online video rental company Zip.ca, which last year had more than 30,000 subscribers and 25-per-cent revenue growth, and Mr. Hall – along with serving as Zip’s president – is chief executive of Internet business incubator Momentous.ca, which has helped grow Zip and a host of other websites such as Rebel.com and Privacy.ca.

As well, Mr. Anderson has worked with the Conservative Party and helped grow the Reform Party with Preston Manning, while Mr. Hall founded the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) which oversees the dot-ca domain, and is one of the principal founders of the Canadian Association of Internet providers, which represents all Internet service providers in the country.

Despite the poor attendance for the Ottawa Lynx franchise, Mr. Anderson noted that the team attracted as many as 600,000 fans at its peak.

“I don’t think it’s a reflection of the lack of institutional base here for baseball, and there are many people looking for family entertainment in Ottawa, which could be enjoying an evening or a day at the ball park,” he said.

Read more of Krystle Chow’s stories on the Ottawa Rapidz and Zip.ca:

 

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