It’s that time of year again folks, summer. With it comes the nice weather (after the winter we had, we deserve it). But also comes the lack of a major spectator sport in the region. Sure, there are individual events that can bring in the crowds (Sand Jam & the Nova Scotia Open) and local leagues (senior soccer & baseball namely). But neither of these leagues can draw in the casual fan and get a city excited like the hockey teams can. Even the university leagues (hockey, football & basketball) and the NBL Canada (when teams aren’t forfeiting game sevens) generate more excitement than any of the summer teams do.
In other parts of the country, baseball is coming back. Excitement is building in CanAm communities in Quebec, Trois-Rivieres and Ottawa. Ditto for Winnipeg in the American Association. Quebec, Trois-Rivieres and Winnipeg all open this Thursday. Friday night sees the home opener of Ottawa’s first professional baseball team since 2008 when the Champions host their expansion cousins Sussex County. Also, college summer leagues are starting up soon. The Northwoods League (including the Thunder Bay Border Cats) opens up on May 26. The Western Major Baseball League (with teams all over Alberta & Saskatchewan) opens up on May 28). The West Coast League (with teams in Victoria and Kelowna) opens up June 5. Canada’s lone affiliated minor league team, the Vancouver Canadians (of the Northwest League) open up on June 18. That means every province outside of Atlantic Canada see some kind of professional/summer collegiate baseball during the summer. In the States, only Hawaii doesn’t have either minor pro or summer college ball.
It’s time the East Coast gets in on the action. From the last whistle of the last hockey/basketball game in April/May until the opening of camps in August (or if you prefer the opening faceoff of he regular season in September) there is huge void when it comes to sports in this region. There is every reason to believe that baseball can be successful here during these months. All you need is a ballpark and a good marketing/business plan to be successful. The biggest question in my mind is would independent professional ball or summer collegiate ball be more successful in the Maritime market. Both have their pros and cons. I favour the independent league as I believe it’ll be easier to draw in casual fans with a pro team than a group of collegians. But if someone with vision (and money) starts a Maritime summer collegiate league, I’d happily support it. There is no better way to spend a beautiful summer afternoon or evening than outdoors at the ballpark. It’s time to bring that experience to the Maritimes.