VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canadians have looked into the possibility of bringing the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners to Vancouver for an exhibition series but say a proper assessment of the idea must wait until the renovations at B.C. Place are completed next month.
Andy Dunn, president of the single-A club, said in an interview Thursday that he’s both visited the facility, in the midst of a $563-million refurbishment, and “kicked some tires with the guys in Toronto about it.”
“But until we’re 100 per cent sure it’s feasible from a facility standpoint,” he continued, “we’re not going to (go) gangbusters on it right now.”
B.C. Place, home to the CFL’s B.C. Lions and MLS’s Vancouver Whitecaps, has hosted some baseball games in the past but plans for a new scoreboard and seamless turf represent challenges that didn’t exist previously.
Earlier this year, Blue Jays president Paul Beeston said the team had some interest in playing exhibition games in Montreal and Vancouver in coming years, as part of its strategy to reach more fans across the country.
Combined with the recent ascension of third baseman Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., to the majors, and a strong showing by B.C. fans in Seattle this week for Toronto’s series with the Mariners, the idea has picked up steam of late.
“We’ve looked at it initially and I’ve been through the building, and it’s hard to really get a footprint of what it would look like,” said Dunn. “I know they’ve played baseball in there before with some of the exhibition games, but with some of the things they’re doing now for the soccer and football with the seamless turf and the videoboard, we’re really going to have to wait and see once it’s up the heights and how it lays out with a baseball diamond before we can really go too much further.”
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The Canadians would be involved in any such endeavour since Vancouver is their territory. The Blue Jays would handle arrangements with scheduling and finding an opponent, and Dunn said he hasn’t yet approached the Mariners.
“You look at plans, you look at schematics, but that doesn’t really tell you what you need to know until you stand underneath it and look up,” he said. “The videoboard would basically be directly over second base and I worry about the height. And you have challenges with the seamless turf, what are you going to do about warning tracks, baselines, plate to the mound.
“You can always throw enough money at it and build another turf on top, but until you see what it’s actually going to play like, is it going to be more than 265 feet down the right-field line? You’ve got to be able to take a look at it once it’s set up.”
Still, there at least seems to be enough interest to keep examining the proposal.
“I think it would be great just to create more excitement about baseball on the coast,” said Dunn. “Any time you can bring in the major-league product to your local community it does nothing but good things. There’s no downside.”