After completing their second season in the Frontier League, the Ottawa Titans have announced further ballpark enhancements to the Ottawa Stadium, part of a 10-year plan to enhance community access and the fan experience.

The club plans to add new patio decks, continue renovations on the second- and third-floor suites and to the recently introduced Hop Yard, which will feature Ottawa’s local craft breweries.

The club’s vice president and COO Regan Katz says these renovations aren’t intended to expand the park — the work will actually reduce the number of seats — but rather to rejuvenate it.

“Having 10,000 seats is far too many for baseball at nearly every level, and certainly more seats than we need as is,” he said. “So these plans will actually start removing seats and converting them into mingling spaces instead.”

Attendance was 78,495 over 51 home games for the Titans in 2023, for an average of 1,540 a game. This was an increase of 27 per cent over the 2022 season, when attendance averaged 1,211 per game.

Katz acknowledges that the team was near the bottom of the league in attendance in its first year, but, “we still drew in reasonable numbers for Ottawa, surpassing the last few years that the Lynx were in town.”

“In our second season, we moved ourselves into the second tier of attendance numbers for the Frontier League. So are we in the lower half? Yes, but we’re more in the middle of the pack at the same time.”

Augie Gallardo, a right-handed pitcher for the Titans last season, believes that the park enhancements should help get more people into the stands.

Located in the city’s east end near the interchange between the Queensway and the Vanier Parkway, the Ottawa Stadium was originally built in 1993 to host Triple-A Minor League Baseball. Today, the ballpark hosts Ottawa Titans home games, as well as concerts, festivals, and community events.

Gallardo played college baseball at Eastern Michigan University until 2016, and went on to play for several teams in the Frontier League. He also spent two seasons playing in the Mexican League.

He says his teammates also believe that the crowd in Ottawa is great, but that the fans are too spread around.

“I think we get good crowds there. It’s just hard to tell with how big that stadium is.”

“The fans in Ottawa get loud, and these renovations will really help with making it so that all the fans are in one area instead of all splattered around,” Gallardo said.

“The crowd carries the team. If we hear that the crowd has our back, that will motivate us more.”

Gallardo says he plans to retire because of lingering injuries and will look to become a pitching coach for minor league teams. 

Nathan Kee, an Ottawa baseball fan, started attending Titans games during their first season, and continues to support the team.

He said he thinks the better the stadium looks, the better the attendance will be.

“I’m really excited to see the renovations they make to the stadium. I think it brings a better atmosphere, like you saw in Toronto specifically with the Jays this year with their renovated stadium,” Kee said.

“I think it definitely helps the atmosphere, and the atmosphere can definitely propel the team.”

Rogers Centre in Toronto was renovated before the start of the Blue Jays’ 2023 season. The average attendance for the most recent season was 37,307, compared with an average of 32,763 in 2022, according to data from ESPN, despite winning three fewer games in the regular season.

Kee says he thinks it will be a challenge for the Titans to expand their fan base, being the smallest of the city’s professional sports teams.

“I think it’s tough because in a big market like Ottawa, there’s other teams involved like the Senators and the Redblacks. It’s hard to get a big fan base for a minor league baseball team, but I think that the stadium is a below average venue, so if they can improve the venue, they can definitely get themselves above and gain some more fans.”

The renovation plans come as team ownership is looking to sell stadium naming rights, beginning in the 2024 season. 

In a recent article, the Titans said that the party that secures the naming rights will be provided exceptional brand visibility through prominent exterior and interior venue signage, widespread media coverage, community engagement, hospitality opportunities and a connection to a diverse, growing, and valuable fanbase.

Katz is enthusiastic about the future.

“The reason that the Titans are different from the previous baseball teams that were in Ottawa is that we have something to lean on to follow and it’s just adapting to whatever is unique for the city itself. We intend to continue growing, but we’ve certainly found our legs and are quite pleased with the support that Ottawa was able to show,” Katz said.

The Titans have a 10-year lease with the city for the baseball park that began Jan. 1, 2021. In 2022 city council approved an agreement that gives the baseball club responsibility for booking the stadium for baseball and other special events. Prior to that the city was responsible for managing bookings.