Sports Baseball

New-look Nat coming together

By Eric MacKenzie

Additional seating at Nat Bailey Stadium will be ready for the Vancouver Canadians' home opener on June 26. 
PHOTO COURTESY OF VANCOUVER CANADIANS

Additional seating at Nat Bailey Stadium will be ready for the Vancouver Canadians' home opener on June 26. PHOTO COURTESY OF VANCOUVER CANADIANS

With improvements at Nat Bailey Stadium nearing completion, Vancouver Canadians fans can expect more from a night at the ballpark this summer.

More seats, more vantage points, more efficient movement around the venue. And perhaps, even, more dingers.

The new-look Nat will include additional seating that goes down the third-base line and wraps around the left-field foul pole, resulting in 750 to 1,000 seats being added to the previous capacity of 5,157. The Canadians sold out the ballpark 25 times during their 2014 Northwest League season, which was fantastic for the franchise, but not always great for would-be fans.

“As cool as it is to be able to put out press releases saying that you’ve sold the stadium out, it’s worse to have to turn families back towards Abbotsford or Delta or North Van or wherever they’re coming from,” said Canadians broadcaster and communications director Rob Fai. “This, I think, will alleviate that problem.”

The “porch” seating in home-run territory in left field will provide a brand-new angle to take in a game, one that Fai expects even diehard fans will want a chance to experience. But the seating upgrades have another effect – changing the dimensions of the ballpark.

It’s now 320 feet to clear the wall in left field, down from 335, and the outfield fence in front of the new seats is just six feet high. That means more opportunity for hitters to smack one out of the park.

“If you’re a right-handed, dead-pull hitter, it’s right in your wheelhouse,” said Fai.

New points of entry to the facility, plus new food kiosks and additional parking are also expected to reduce some of the bottlenecks of spectators experienced at the diamond in the past.

All renovations are scheduled to be complete well before the Canadians’ home opener on June 26 against the Hillsboro Hops. The C’s open their campaign with an eight-game road trip starting June 18 against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, looking to reach a fifth consecutive championship series and a fourth title in five years.

 

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