West Coast League baseball will make its way to Victoria after all.
Standing on the concourse above Royal Athletic Park’s grassed-over baseball diamond on Wednesday, WCL president Ken Wilson announced a Victoria franchise has been granted and will play out of the historic downtown stadium, beginning in June of 2013.
“For those who don’t know it, the West Coast League is to baseball what the Western Hockey League is to hockey,” Wilson said, referring to the amateur WCL being a feeder to Major League Baseball.
Seattle-based Wilson tried to land a franchise in Victoria in 2008, but that deal was edged out by the Victoria Seals. Sadly, the Seals only survived two seasons and one of the key issues in their demise was a revenue sharing deal with RAP’s concessions.
Team owner John McLean, who did the speaking on behalf of himself and co-owner Dwight Willet, agreed the yet-to-be-named team’s deal to play at RAP hinged on several economic factors.
McLean, a business partner with Willet in their native Vancouver, wouldn’t speak to the percentage of revenue his team would receive. But he was blunt in his assessment of the park’s facilities.
“We’ll have to bring in outside food vendors to supplement the concession stands.”
McLean is aware of the Seals’ demise and the Capitals before that, though the Capitals stood strongest amongst a collapsing league.
“We’ve calculated based on those teams that we should be going for 1,000 to 1,500 fans per game,” McLean said.
Ticket prices have not been sorted and vary around the league. The Kelowna Falcons charge $10 general admission for adults and $5 for kids and seniors, which is a slight discount from the Seals.
The community will be involved in the naming of the team, though McLean made it clear he would like to align the club with Victoria’s baseball history where possible. Early possible names include the 1911 Victoria Islanders (later named the Bees), 1913 Capitals and 1915 Maple Leafs.