St. Patrick’s Park, St. John’s

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St. Patrick’s Ballpark in St. John’s.  Courtesy of Baseball Canada.

This is a part in a series of blog posts about places where a minor league baseball park could be built in various Maritime (make that Atlantic) 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 St. Patrick’s Park is an ideal place for a minor league ballpark.

St. Patrick’s Park is located in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.  It was built following the Second World War (in 1947) by American servicemen who were stationed in the city.  In other words, the park was build just before Newfoundland joined Canada (in 1949).  Currently it is home to local amateur (senior, intermediate & junior) baseball.  St. Patrick’s also hosted the National Junior Championships in 1966, Canada Games in 1977 and the Senior Nationals in 1982 and 1997.  The park features lights, press box, canteen and the Joe Wadden Room clubhouse.

With a capacity of 5,000 it is the largest baseball park east of Montreal.  I had to double-check that last figure but Stade Canac (Quebec Capitales) holds 4800 and Stade Fernand-Bedard (Trois-Rivieres Aigles) holds 4500.  Kiwanis Park in Moncton holds 3500.  With a park this size, it should be used by some sort of higher level league.  Despite its amenities mentioned in the previous paragraph, upgrades would have to be made to make St. Patrick’s a professional ballpark.  Could probably get away with it “as is, where is” for a summer collegiate team.  By all accounts, St. Pat’s is a beautiful ballpark.  It has a lush greenery as a hitter’s eye and is home to the oldest continuously operating senior league in the country.

There are a couple of problems with bringing baseball to Newfoundland.  The most obvious is isolation.  In order for St. John’s to have a professional or summer collegiate team the team would most certainly fly in and out to away games.  Obviously opponents would have to do the same.  This creates an additional expense as the St. John’s nine would probably pick up the air tab for the visitors (as has been the case with the AHL Ice Caps, QMJHL Fog Devils and AHL Maple Leafs.  The other problem (somewhat related) is there are no nearby leagues to join.  The Ice Caps can get by as the AHL is a higher level league (bigger budgets).  St. John’s is not an option for the Can Am League or any other league without Maritime teams nearby (travel purposes and “local” rivalries).

Professional baseball is probably a stretch for Newfoundland (at least at this location) due to the lack of room to expand.  But St. Patrick’s could probably host summer collegiate baseball.  Of course, the budget of a summer league team is smaller than  a pro team (even independent league).  Travel would be a stretch at best for a minor league team but would likely be infeasible for summer collegiate baseball.  Having said that I wouldn’t completely rule St. John’s out of a Maritime based summer league (may need a second team on the island to share costs).  The metro area does have a population of 196,966 (2011 Census), which makes it the second biggest metro in Atlantic Canada.  So if the travel issue can to worked out then St. John’s could work.  Just as an aside, the Alaska Baseball League had a team in Honolulu (Hawaii Island Movers) from 1986-2001, winning the championship in 1997.  There was also a team in Pullman, WA (Palouse Empire Cougars) from 1986-91 and a team in San Francisco (Senators) in 1988.  Throw in the Maple Leafs / Fog Devils / Ice Caps example, then who knows St. John’s could be viable.

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Another angle of the park.  Also from Baseball Canada.

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This Google Earth image shows lack of expansion opportunities for St. Patricks’s.

That’s how my mind wanders on a December day.  Stay tuned for more posts in this ballpark proposals series.

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