SPORTS

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa Martin

Brohm says he is ready / D3

WHEN Sam Katz walked away from city hall last year, it wasn’t long be­fore he strolled back into a fa­mil­iar haunt and set up a new of­fice at Shaw Park.

For the decade he served as mayor of Win­nipeg, Katz had to take an arm’slength ap­proach to run­ning the pro­fes­sional base­ball team he founded in 1994. Most years, he only man­aged to catch a hand­ful of Win­nipeg Gold­eyes games. Now, a lit­tle more than a year af­ter Katz an­nounced he would not con­test a fourth may­oral elec­tion, ev­ery­thing has changed.

There are fewer func­tions for the ex-mayor these days, and no more fussy for­mal­i­ties. “His wor­ship?” That’s gone. In­stead, Katz said, “I’m just Sam.”

By all ap­pear­ances, the re­turn to pri­vate life is treat­ing the 63-year-old just fine. These days, you’re far more likely to spot him wear­ing shorts than a suit. When the Free Press sat down with the Gold­eyes owner Tues­day af­ter­noon, he joked about his choice of footwear: a pair of sock-less slip-on shoes.

Sar­to­rial flex­i­bil­ity aside, leav­ing city hall has made the big­gest im­pact on Katz’ fam­ily life. His daugh­ters Ava, 14, and Kiera, 10, are see­ing more of their fa­ther than ever. His youngest child, son Ai­dan, turns three in Novem­ber, the same month his wife, Leah, is ex­pect­ing the cou­ple’s sec­ond child to­gether.

For the youngest Katz chil­dren, that means they will grow up only know­ing their dad as an in­die-league base­ball team owner.

With all that in mind, the Free Press met up with Katz to chat about get­ting back to run­ning the Gold­eyes, rais­ing a fam­ily, and why some folks at the gro­cery store still think he can solve their civic woes. (We’ve edited the in­ter­view for clar­ity and space.)

Let’s start off with, how does it feel to be back at Shaw Park on more days than not?

Af­ter be­ing away for 10 years, it feels re­ally good. It’s some­thing I was re­ally good at, too, so it’s great to be back. Ev­ery so of­ten, you need to change things up.

When you look around the park now, what do you see?

To me, it’s all about the fans. That’s why we cre­ated base­ball. When we orig­i­nally started this in our first sea­son, it was all about qual­ity and af­ford­able fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment. Bring a fam­ily of four to a ball game for $20, which was hard to do with any­thing else. I used to use the com­par­i­son: if you de­liver pa­pers for any news­pa­per, you could af­ford to go to a Gold­eyes game.

So what’s it go­ing to be like when no­body de­liv­ers news­pa­pers any­more?

(Laugh­ing) You know, 10 years ago, I never thought of that, so things are chang­ing. I’ll come up with another anal­ogy, I can as­sure you.

In the 10 years you’ve been gone, this fran­chise has changed leagues, won a cham­pi­onship and said good­bye to a lot of favourite play­ers. What do you no­tice has changed?

The fran­chise it­self hasn’t changed, but the en­vi­ron­ment in our city has changed dras­ti­cally. For ex­am­ple, when the (NHL’s) Jets came back, which was fan­tas­tic for the city, that changed the land­scape. Now we have the (AHL’s) Moose com­ing back. So there are things around us that are chang­ing.

With a fran­chise, you’re al­ways go­ing to have your field man­ager, you’re go­ing to have your coaches, you’re go­ing to have your 22 play­ers, you’re go­ing to have your travel on the bus. So things are al­ways the same.

Ev­ery so of­ten there’s a rule change, and I’m on the ex­ec­u­tive now of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion, which means we have our monthly meet­ings to ad­dress cer­tain is­sues. As you know right now, we have 13 teams in our league, which is pretty good with in­ter-league play with the Can-Am League.

Things are al­ways chang­ing, but the game of base­ball is the same. Noth­ing changes there, ex­cept the new rule change about ex­tra in­nings in a tie game (ed.: start­ing in the 11th in­ning, each team starts with a run­ner on sec­ond base), which I per­son­ally de­test. But c’est la vie, it is what it is.

The Fron­tier League is com­ing up. The Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion has been very sta­ble, but there are now other pres­sures.

There’s al­ways pres­sures. Don’t ever think for a mo­ment that there isn’t. You’ll never have a year you don’t have some trou­bled fran­chise. For Win­nipeg, travel was al­ways an is­sue. It’s where

MELISSA TAIT / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

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