Ottawa Champions unveil local partnerships

With opening day four months away, Ottawa’s latest professional baseball team announced new local partnerships Wednesday for its bats and its beer.

In a move team president David Gourlay called an “absolute no-brainer,” the Ottawa Champions announced the Sam Bat Corporation will be the official bat provider for the club.

“These guys make bats for professional baseball players and we’re a professional baseball team,” said Mr. Gourlay, whose club is preparing for its inaugural Can-Am season which begins in May.

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Sam Bat started out in 1997 at founder Sam Holman’s home on Bayswater Avenue before moving to its first plant on Rochester Street. It now manufactures its products out of Carleton Place. Last year more than 100 major league ball players swung a maple Sam Bat.

“We are extremely pleased to see baseball back in Ottawa and are really looking forward as a company to working with the Ottawa Champions organization”, Sam Bat president, Arlene Anderson said in a statement.

Perhaps more important to those in the stands, the club also announced partnerships with The Clocktower Brew Pub and local microbrewery Kichesippi Beer.

“Beer and baseball have been partners for as long as anyone can remember. It only makes sense to have the Champions and Kichesippi form a strong, Ottawa-based partnership”, Kichesippi president Paul Meek said in a statement.

Each will serve three products and Mr. Gourlay said discussions are already underway for some specialty beers to be served exclusively at the ballpark.

“There will be variety so fans don’t just have one type of beer,” he said.

The team is also discussing marketing ideas with The Clocktower that could include special deals on game night, perhaps with transportation to the park from the pub’s New Edinburgh location.

Local business interest is strong, said Mr. Gourlay, and more partnerships are on the way. While local vendors will always being the priority, if it’s not possible, the team will then go regional before looking for national vendors.

“It makes good business sense to be buying locally,” said Mr. Gourlay. “You have the relationship from the ground, delivery times are shorter, your production costs may be smaller.”

He said the club also wants partners that will feel invested in the team, not just drop off their products and go away. If they feel invested, they in turn will spread the word about Champions baseball, and that will, ideally, create lineups at the ticket window.

That’s something that didn’t happen enough with past professional baseball attempts in the city, but Mr. Gourlay said local partnerships like the ones announced Wednesday are part of the strategy to make the Champions last longer than the Rapidz and FatCats and even the Triple-A Lynx, who did have some level of success here including a championship season in 1995.

“A lot of these operations were thrown together in a quick time period and may not have had the luxury of time to put these partnerships together. We have that. My commitment to the fans and the families is to make sure we’re doing as much as we can,” Mr. Gourlay said.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson joined representatives of all the partners at the announcement, held at the Kichesippi brewery.

“I welcome the initiative of the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club to support our local business sector”, Mr. Watson said in a statement, “Investments in our local economy, like these ones, help to promote its growth and I am pleased that Ottawa’s new professional baseball club recognizes how important this is.”

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