Sunday, May 29, 2011

Baseball likely to return to Victoria in 2012

According to two published media reports, Victoria is on the short list of cities to be granted an expansion franchise in the West Coast League (WCL) for the 2012 season. A few months ago, an article appeared in the New Westminster News Leader stating that a WCL team could be playing next year in Queen's Park Stadium in New Westminster. This article also stated:

"The nine-team league, which first called "play ball" in 2005, has an eventual vision of 12 franchises. It is also looking at placing teams in a location "east of Kelowna" and another in Victoria."

Recently, Ballpark Business included a short note about WCL expansion:

"Team owners from the summer collegiate West Coast League will meet in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue (WA) on April 22-23 to discuss league business, including adding one-to-three new franchises to the circuit in 2012.  The markets most recently mentioned were Medford (OR), the Olympia (WA) area, Victoria (BC), and New Westminster (BC)."

The West Coast League features high-level NCAA players and the 48-game schedule (June to mid-August) is a good fit for Victoria's summer weather. League alumni include Jeff Francis of the Kansas City Royals, Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox and Nyjer Morgan of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The West Coast League already includes a team in British Columbia -- the Kelowna Falcons -- so the Victoria team would have another rival in addition to New Westminster. Other teams in the league include the Bellingham (WA) Bells, Bend (OR) Elks, Corvallis (OR) Knights, Cowlitz (Kelso / Longview, WA) Black Bears, Kitsap (Bremerton, WA) BlueJackets, Klamath Falls (OR) Gems, Walla Walla (WA) Sweets and the Wenatchee (WA) AppleSox.

Hopefully, Victoria lands a WCL expansion team and an official announcement is made in the near future. The departure of the Seals has left a gaping hole in the summer sports scene in this city, and a WCL team would be a nice addition. I for one would be excited to watch future major leaguers showcase their skills at Royal Athletic Park.

Let's keep our fingers crossed...