Thursday, December 16, 2010

Victoria to land semi-pro baseball team?

I heard an interesting rumour recently that a "professional" baseball team might be headed back to Victoria. Now keep in mind that this rumour is entirely unsubstantiated at this point, but it's somewhat believable given the quote from Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin in the Times-Colonist article of November 21, 2010.

Apparently, the geography of the league might even allow the Victoria team to travel exclusively by bus, which would certainly help the financial viability of the franchise. I did some research to try and identify this league and the likeliest possibility is the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL), a collegiate semi-pro summer league that currently has 11 teams based in Alberta and Saskatchewan. I tried to confirm the rumour by sending an email to the WMBL President earlier today, but we have not received a reply as of yet.

The WMBL is an extremely stable league with an impressive 56-year history. The league is like a Canadian version of the prestigious Cape Cod League. Team rosters are made up of current and recent college players and unlike college ball, a wood bat is used. The league plays a 45-game regular season that begins on the first weekend in June and playoffs take place starting in late July.

Seals fans may remember that Jeff Duda made the jump from the WMBL to the GBL this past summer. In fact, Duda's old team, the Okotoks Dawgs, led the league in attendance in 2010 with an average of 2,174 fans per game.

In another piece of exciting news, Cranbrook BC was granted a conditional WMBL franchise just yesterday. If plans to build a new ballpark in Cranbrook unfold as expected, their new team could begin play in 2013. And check out what WMBL President Kevin Kvame had to say about the expansion team in Cranbrook:
President of the WMBL, Kevin Kvame, is looking forward to his league taking its first step into British Columbia. "The pitch that was made by the Cranbrook Group was very strong, and we see it as a good fit for our league's future plans. Cranbrook is an ideal candidate for expansion - it is a reasonable distance for travel, has a strong business community, a long history of baseball, and a proven track record of supporting its sport franchises.
Could this mean that the league is poised to make additional steps into British Columbia? We'll have to wait and see.