Can Canada Support a Second Baseball Franchise in Vancouver?
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- At first look you might not think that Vancouver could support a Major League Baseball franchise, but there are a few things to consider. With a surrounding area population of 2.5 Million, it is one of the biggest cities in the USA or Canada not to have a team. Of course when you are looking at the viability of a franchise submission/or relocation, you must look at the facility that the baseball would be played in. With newly renovated B.C Place Stadium-(see http://www.bcplacestadium.com/,) and its $600 Million Dollar Renovations, it is one of the most impressive structures in North America now.
The building itself is estimated to be worth over a billion dollars. It’s clear, retractable roof, with an incredible look to detail inside the building with 22 inch stadium style seating has all of the modern amenities that a new age fan would want. The facility features several new Skyboxes for corporate suites, and brand new concession stands that would be an extremely good revenue generator. The stadium’s surface is made up of Field Turf, and could be converted to meet baseball specifications. This stadium is a turn-key situation unlike any other in North America when it comes to a baseball ready facility.
Major League Baseball has gained in popularity over the last 20 years in the Lower Mainland with turning out MLB’ers like Larry Walker, Jeff Francis , Ryan Dempster and Brett Lawrie all coming from this area. Also in Canada, you have 3 TV networks that have an all-sports format in www.thescore.ca, www.tsn.ca and www.sportsnet.ca that would gladly love to fill content on their networks by bidding for television rights on a new baseball team in Canada. There are enough talented sports personalities to fill in solid coverage.
I loved the old Montreal Expos, but they were at a serious disadvantage with more than half of the population speaking French, it made it tough to connect with the baseball players. They have the same problem in hockey, but the Montreal Canadiens are like the New York Yankees of hockey. So what is the history of baseball in Vancouver?
BC Place Stadium hosted annual exhibition games for the Seattle Mariners back in the early to mid-Nineties when the Pacific Northwest Club had not yet moved into Safeco Field, and attendance was very acceptable. The exhibition games were against the Toronto Blue Jays and drew about 40,000 fans per game. They were cancelled for good when Edgar Martinez tore up his knee on the old AstroTurf. BC Place hosts over 200 events a year but could easily be scheduled around with an 81 game baseball home Schedule.
For several years (before the franchise relocated to Sacramento,) Vancouver had a Triple ‘A’ Affiliate-that played out of Nat Bailey Stadium for Major League Teams like Oakland, Los Angeles Angeles and Milwaukee of the ‘Pacific Coast League.’ Those teams drew very well in attendance, but were forced to move to California by a .60 Canadian dollar and an owner who got a $10 million dollar deal to move the franchise.
You could see an expansion or if a team like the Tampa Bay Rays needs to relocate, this city could support a ball club (especially if they are competitive as the Rays are and not an expansion team.) A Vancouver team would be welcomed by the Seattle Mariners who are 150 Miles down I-5 South-and a perfect natural rivalry. It would also be easier for teams to combine road trips by adding another Pacific North West City. Another thing in the favor of this relocation would be the Canadian dollar-(currently sitting at .97 cents per USA dollar which is about .20 cents higher than what it was at when the Montreal Expos Left.)
As a long time Vancouver resident, I am so fed up with the local hockey team charging $150 per ticket and upward. It basically has driven the most hard-core sports fan out of attending the games as corporations are the only people who can afford these games. The BC Lions (of the Canadian Football League) are a nice alternative for value, but that is only a 11 game season if they host a playoff game, 1 preseason game, and a normal 9 game home schedule. There are many sports fans in the city, as evidence by having 2 all-sports radio stations that are profitable in www.team1040.ca or www.team1410.ca. I believe that there are enough fans to support a baseball team here. At least we could draw about 2 million fans like the Toronto Blue Jays would.
The globalization of Vancouver as a feature travel destination was completely enhanced with the incredible success of the 2010 Winter Olympics. As such, this would bring in several outside fans across the world wanting to visit Vancouver on a baseball road trip. With the retractable roof being available to show off the impressive mountains and Vancouver skyline, it would be a perfect place to spend the summer sipping on a cold beer, and eating ballpark franks in one of the best cities in the world.
If MLB is thinking about expansion, or relocation of a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, than why not put in Vancouver where they already have a state of the art facility?
*** To look at more facts about this impressive structure click here ***
***Thank you to our Baseball Writer***– Douglas “Chuck” Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his successful Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book please click here . ***
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Posted on June 1, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged astro turf, bc place stadium, brett lawrie, CFL, edgar martinez, jeff francis, Larry Walker, metrodome, Minnesota, mlb expansion, mlb relocation, montreal, Montreal Canadiens, montreal expos, new york mets, new york yankees, oakland, pcl, portland, r, ryan dempster, Sacramento, seattle mariners, sportsnet.ca, tampa bay rays, team 1040, team 1410, the score.ca, toronto, toronto blue jays, tsn.ca, vancouver, vancouver canadians. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.