Vancouver’s New and Improved Nat Bailey Stadium Set for June 26 Home Opener

Artist rendering on stadium renovations, sourced from milb.com

Artist rendering on stadium renovations, sourced from milb.com

A “night at the Nat” just got a little more exciting.

Vancouver’s historic Nat Bailey Stadium, home of the Vancouver Canadians minor league baseball team, is in the last stages of a major expansion, leading up to opening night on June 26.

An additional 750 seats have been added to the 1951 ballpark, bringing capacity up to an estimated 5,907 seats. New bleachers extend down the left-field line, and there’s now bleacher seating just beyond the left-field fence. A new entrance on the third-base side of the stadium should help ease foot traffic during sold-out games.

In addition, the outfield fences have been moved in – making the Nat a more “hitter-friendly” park. (Translation: Expect more home runs in 2015.) The field now measures 320 feet, rather than 335 feet, down both foul lines, and the soaring 20-foot-high outfield fence has been replaced with a 4-foot-high fence. (Expect some exciting home-run stealing grabs by outfielders this season, as well.)

Photo credit: John Biehler | Flickr

Photo credit: John Biehler | Flickr

Fans can also look forward to expanded beverage offerings this year. The Nat will be selling Hey y’all’s line of Southern-style hard iced teas, as well as Whistler craft beers.

The best part for baseball lovers: Reserved grandstand tickets for Canadians games are only $14, with box seats going for $18. The new bleachers in left field will be reserved primarily for corporate and group outings, but they will be opened up to individual fans on select nights for $14.

Photo credit: janheuninck | Flickr

Photo credit: janheuninck | Flickr

The Canadians are a farm club for the Toronto Blue Jays and play in the Northwest League from June to September. In the past, the team was a prime source of Major League talent, with Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi and other big superstars spending time with the club. In 2000, the Canadians moved from the AAA to A division and now feature lots of promising rookies at the start of their career.

Half the appeal of a Canadians game is the ballpark itself. Surrounded by quaint residential streets and backed by Queen Elizabeth Park, Nat Bailey feels like stepping into baseball’s past. It’s got a small-town feel (despite being in the big city), with zany promotions between innings like the popular sushi mascot race. Meanwhile, concessions have a distinctly Vancouver vibe, with sushi on offer in addition to the usual burgers and dogs, as well as beer from Granville Island Brewing.

Photo credit: Ian Alexander Martin | Flickr

Photo credit: Ian Alexander Martin | Flickr

All of that charm, however, means that games tend to sell out fast. Last year, the Canadians sold out 23 of their 38 home games, averaging nearly 5,000 people a game. Action kicks off this year with a home opener against the rival Hillsboro Hops on Friday, June 26.

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