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Re/Max Field out of Prospects' hands but baseball club still controls Edmonton territory

The city has signed a new 10-year deal with a group led by Randy Gregg for baseball to remain at Re/Max Field, shown on rainy Thursday, May 21, 2020.
The city has signed a new 10-year deal with a group led by Randy Gregg for baseball to remain at Re/Max Field, shown on rainy Thursday, May 21, 2020.

There is no baseball being played right now on the home continent of North America’s pastime, but that hasn’t stopped a pitching duel from developing over Re/Max Field.

Stepping up to the plate this past year has been a group of 20 members making up a cross-section of the community calling itself Edmonton Baseball Inc., which includes former Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup champion Dr. Randy Gregg.

And in the other dugout sits — for now, at least — the Edmonton Prospects, the collegiate summer squad that has been calling Re/Max Field home since 2012.

Gregg’s gang, you’ve likely heard by now, has been given a 10-year lease by the city to operate the ballpark, which, since 1995, has been a jewel of Edmonton’s sports scene with its 9,200 seats tucked neatly in the river valley on the edge of downtown.

They want to bring in a second Western Canadian Baseball League team to Edmonton, which would also play out of Re/Max Field, while also catering to minor baseball, sports camps and local arts and entertainment to help fill the off days.

But the Prospects are the established team in the city, which in the eyes of the WCBL, gives them more than squatter’s rights when it comes to someone else trying to start up a new franchise here, whether it’s in RE/MAX Field or not.

“I attended meetings with the City of Edmonton in February where the current situation of Re/Max Field was discussed,” read a statement from WCBL president Kevin Kvame issued Thursday. “Since that time, nothing has changed on that front, meaning the Prospects have and will continue to have the territorial rights to the Greater Edmonton area.”

Expect the Prospects to go to bat with a news release of their own Friday.

“The Prospects will be providing a full statement regarding yesterday’s news soon,” the club posted on its Twitter feed Thursday morning. “We do want to clarify that the Prospects have reached no agreements to remain at Re/Max Field at this time and territorial protection accorded by the league prevents any other operator from doing so.”

The team’s managing partner, Patrick Cassidy, wasn’t giving interviews ahead of time.

“It’s a fluid situation,” he offered. “So probably not appropriate to comment at this time as things are changing by the hour.”

But just how much change the facility switching hands could entail remains to be seen — for both the current tenants and the new landlords of the ballpark.

“The first goal is to work with the existing team, the Edmonton Prospects, and hopefully continue to have them play in the Western Canadian Baseball League down at Re/Max Field,” said Gregg, who played on the site in the 1970s, back when it was known as Renfrew Ball Park, as a member of the Edmonton Tigers in the summers when he wasn’t playing hockey with Clare Drake’s University of Alberta Golden Bears. “We’re going to try to establish another team in the Western Canadian Baseball League. We really think the idea of the Edmonton Huskies/Edmonton Wildcats rivalry and great organizations in the city could work very well for baseball.”

The hitch, according to one WCBL source, lies in the aforementioned territorial protection policy within the league’s charter, which gives unanimous consent of its board of governors to keep the Prospects in control of the very ground upon which Re/Max Field sits, in their view.

“He might have a stadium deal,” said the source, “but he has no team and it’s very possible he won’t get one.”

Which begs the question, what would the plan be over the next decade if some sort of deal can’t be struck and the Prospects don’t waive territorial rights?

“We’ve been trying to work hard with the Prospects, they have a vested interest in making money and staying in this area, and that’s, you know, what it is,” said Gregg, pointing out Brooks plays in the WCBL and has a population of around 15,000, compared to the million or so in Edmonton. “But sure, we really realize if the decision is made not necessarily in the bottom-line dollar, but in what is best for the community and best for the players, I think, hopefully, common sense will come into play. And it could be really good for the community.”

He reiterated the two-team system works for the Edmonton Huskies and Edmonton Wildcats of the Prairie Junior Football Conference.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Gregg said. “We can’t make decisions for other people, but we can offer really nice financial and also community options for people. We’ll try to work with whoever’s involved and all we can do is try to make decisions that are best for the community.”

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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