Fat Cats players living part-time in Ottawa Stadium

Four Ottawa Fat Cats players from the U.S. are spending one to two nights per week inside the Ottawa Stadium's VIP boxes, CBC News has learned, despite the fact the stadium isn't zoned for residential use.

The team's assistant general manager, Jonathan Trottier, confirmed the players often stay at the stadium "after home games or returning from a road trip" but he added it is not a cost-saving measure.

He would not explain why the players sleep in the VIP suites.

"Sometimes you do what you've got to do. And I don't know, I think it's OK," said Pat Gagnon, a player and coach for the semi-pro baseball team.

The players are pitcher Brandon Huffman, infielder Jason Coker, and outfielders Kevin Dietrich and LaDale Hayes, all from North Carolina and Virginia.

Gagnon said they split their time in Ottawa between a nearby hotel and the stadium.

The team is responsible for out-of-town players' living arrangements. Last year players stayed in dorms at St. Paul University in exchange for advertising.

The university said the deal fell through this year.

Fat Cat players aren't paid to play the game, and many work full-time jobs on the side. But legally, the Americans can't work in Canada, making money for lodging tight.

"They're not allowed to get a job here in Canada for the summer," Gagnon said. "They're brought here to perform and bring the fans in."

Tim Nelson, the team's manager and coach, refused to comment.

Brian Carolan, president of the Ottawa Stadium Group and the Fat Cats, did not respond to several requests for comment.

The stadium is a commercial building, and if people want to live inside, the city would have to change the zoning to allow for residential use.

Counc. Bob Monette said that while it can be expensive to find lodging in Ottawa, living at the stadium isn't something the city wants to condone.

"They have a couch, they have washroom facilities, they have a fridge, but are not made for living arrangements," he said.

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