I have already mentioned that the best way to have competitive baseball in the region is to start a collegiate summer league. If such a league is a success, it could lead to the Maritimes getting teams in a professional league of some sort (either it be an affiliated league that’s part of Minor League Baseball or an independent league).
I would start the league off with six teams in the regions biggest cities. The league’s “original six” would be:
1. Cape Breton Highlanders – A tribute to both the Cape Breton Highlands and to the island’s Scottish heritage.
2. Charlottetown Monarchs – A “royal” name is appropriate for Prince Edward Island.
3. Fredericton Maple Sox – Sox is a common nickname for baseball teams, throw “Maple” in front on it and you got yourself the ultimate name for a Canadian baseball team.
4. Halifax Privateers – No matter if the year was 1778 or is 2013, the name is appropriate for the city of Halifax, also very marketable.
5. Moncton Acadiens – A tribute to the French settlers of the Maritimes, yes I do realize the irony that city was named after Robert Monckton who was responsible for the expulsion of the Acadians.
6. Saint John Shamrocks – An Irish name for an Irish city. Also a name used by a previous baseball team in the city.
Most collegiate summer leagues play 40-50 some odd games, this league could play a 50-game schedule (10 against each opponent, 5 home, 5 away). The team names capture the heritage of the region (Scottish, English, Irish, French, Canadian and sea faring) although if such a league existed someone could think of some thing better. People talk how beautiful scenery is part of the allure of both the Cape Cod League and Alaska Baseball Leagues (arguably the two most famous college summer leagues), I believe the Maritimes can give them a run for their money in that department. Also, all the above cities have existing rivalries in either the QMJHL, AUS, NBLC or formally in the AHL.
The league would run from late May until Natal Day weekend, with playoffs taking up the first half of August (roughly the same calendar that other summer leagues play). A successful summer league would show the baseball world that the Maritimes could support minor league teams (in either an affiliated or independent league). A future blog would go into more detail on both of those scenarios. Well marketed summer league teams in this market could give the Okotoks Dawgs a run for their money as the most successful (as a business) summer league franchise in Canada. A good owner can come up with a successful marketing plan (in terms of both advertising and in-game promotion) by studying successes like Okotoks and the Northwoods League’s Madison Mallards; along with successful minor league teams and local major junior hockey teams.