Ready for another season of sushi races and dancing groundskeepers?
The Vancouver Canadians kick off another summer of minor league baseball in Vancouver on June 17. The Canadians serve as a farm club for the Toronto Blue Jays, playing a short summer season ending in early September.
Back in the day, the Canadians featured up-and-coming stars like Jose Canseco, Ricky Henderson and Sammy Sosa. These days, their squad is filled mainly with little known prospects hoping for a big break. But the fun at any Canadians game has as much to do with what happens off the field as on it.
The charm starts with the stadium itself. The Canadians play at Nat Bailey, a gorgeous old stadium that seats just 5,157 people. Built in 1951, the Nat is located on the edge of the residential Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood, just minutes from downtown. Beyond the outfield fence are neat rows of homes and the towering trees of Queen Elizabeth Park.
The Canadians also excel in the food and entertainment department. They might just be the only minor league ball club anywhere serving sushi at their games, as well as craft beer from Granville Island Brewery. Intermissions between innings are filled with goofy good fun, from the classic kiss cam and dancing groundskeepers to the sushi race, where mascots dressed up as pieces of sushi sprint around the field (Go Wasabi!).
And the baseball isn’t bad either. There’s something about hearing the crack of the bat and the pop of a mitt in a small, outdoor stadium that’s magical. During night games, the sun slowly sinks behind right field, throwing golden light onto the diamond and filling the sky with an explosion of color.
Tickets for Canadians home games start at $12.50, a sports bargain that’s hard to beat in Vancouver. Check out their website for the schedule and upcoming promotions (My favourite: free fireworks after every Saturday home game, the whole summer long).
Any Canadians fans out there? What’s your favourite part of watching a game at the Nat?
For more updates on Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.