This is a part in a series of blog posts about places where a minor league baseball park could be built in various Maritime centres. I have discussed some of these in the past but I will go into farther detail in this series of posts and each proposed location will have its own post. For this post I will discuss why Moncton Stadium could be converted into a minor league ballpark.
A while back, a commenter on this blog suggested the idea of using Moncton Stadium for baseball as it’s nice and more modern than Kiwanis Park. First I thought the idea was crazy as expanding/renovating Kiwanis would (on the surface, at least) seem to more a better idea if a minor league team ever sets up shop in Moncton. Then the more I thought about it, the better this idea seemed.
First, using a “football stadium” for baseball is not unusual. The following teams have used a football stadium as a home ballpark:
- Toronto Blue Jays; American League, 1977-1989 at Exhibition Stadium
- Los Angeles Dodgers; National League, 1958-1961 at L.A. Coliseum
- Buffalo Bisons; Eastern League, 1979-1984 & American Association, 1985-1987 at War Memorial Stadium
- Winnipeg Goldeyes; Northern League; 1953-1964, 1969, 1994-1998 & Winnipeg Whips; International League, 1970-1971
- Ottawa Giants; International League, 1951 & Ottawa Athletics, Intentional League 1952-1954
In other words, if it’s happened elsewhere, it can happen in Moncton. Of course, Moncton Stadium may best be used as a short-term solution for a potential Moncton baseball team as the sight lines would be sub par for baseball. All the teams listed above eventually moved to actual ballparks (or in Toronto’s case a purposely build multi purpose stadium) after their time in football stadiums. The Ottawa franchise would actually move to Columbus, Ohio following the 1954 season. In other words, Moncton Stadium could be a stopgap solution while a new ballpark is built or Kiwanis Park is upgraded to professional standards.
Based on the Toronto and Winnipeg models; here’s how the stadium can be setup for baseball. First, home plate would be placed in one corner (say the southwest corner located in the bottom left of the top image). The western grandstand would act as the 3rd baseline as well as the left field stands. The southern part of the eastern grandstand would be the right field stands. This means about half would be located past the outfield wall, mimicking the (poor) setup that was Exhibition Stadium. Meanwhile, purposely build infield seats would be built in the south end zone of the stadium. These would be designed with baseball in mind, giving a good sight lines for these sitting in the infield (which also mimics Exhibition Stadium). They could also mimic the setup of Royal Athletic Park in Victoria (see the Wanderers Grounds post for more detail). Of course, the field would have to be angled in a way so the right field wall would be at least 300 feet away from home plate. Without angling, this would mean the right field wall would only be 200 (or so) feet away from the plate.
Also, more turf would have to be brought in to cover up the track in the baseball part of the stadium. This would be required in order to have the same playing surface throughout the entire diamond. As much as I prefer real grass to the artificial stuff, I actually think the conversion from grass (for the 2015 Women’s World Cup) to turf is an advantage here. One, laying new turf down would be easier than planting new grass. Two, the turf is scaring the track and field people away from the stadium, so there will be less events for that sport held at the stadium. They say the turf eliminates that possibility of international events there (like the World Juniors, the event for which the stadium was built). The turf also hurts the likelihood of the stadium hosting national level competitions. So, they’ll be looking for events to host. Assuming the stadium is not expanded for a potential CFL team then baseball might be considered as a possible tenant. But that is a topic for another day.
In conclusion, if done right Moncton Stadium could host baseball. At worst it would be a functional temporary facility until a more baseball friendly facility is ready. At best, it could be an artificial surface version of Royal Athletic Park.