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Major League Baseball in Vancouver? There's support, but it would be expensive

Last Updated Jun 22, 2021 at 6:40 pm PDT

Summary

Recent poll finds more than half of Metro Vancouverites interested in watching at least one MLB home game

BC Place not a considered a suitable venue, Nat Bailey Stadium too small for MLB game

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Bringing Major League Baseball to Vancouver is a great wish for local lovers of the game, according to a poll, but it could cost billions of dollars to build a new home for an expansion team.

A recent poll by Research Co found 52 per cent of people in Metro Vancouver are interested in watching at least one MLB home game a year. The poll suggests if a franchise were to call Vancouver home, 69 per cent of British Columbians who currently have a favourite MLB team would switch allegiance to the home team.

“I’m a fan of the Phillies — they’ve been my favourite team since the 80’s,” said Mario Canseco with Research Co. “If we had a team that was based here, I would root for it. We see that with people who root for the Mariners and travel all the time to watch the series when they could, all of the people who root for the Blue Jays because they are the only team from Canada … They are the ones who are saying, ‘If this happens, I’m becoming a fan of Vancouver.'”

BC Place, however, is not considered a suitable venue and Nat Bailey Stadium, with about 6,500 seats, is too small. Satiar Shah with Sportsnet 650 says a new venue isn’t the only cost.

“You’re talking about a couple-billion dollar investment at the very least and that, to me, is the biggest hurdle here as opposed to whether the market likes it or not,” he explained.

“You could relocate a team and that would bring the costs down, but you still have to build a new stadium. We’re talking about billions upon billions of dollars. As rich as Vancouver might be and have a lot of multi-millionaires, do they have enough billionaires who are willing to, say, invest in something like this?”

Teams currently searching for a new home include the Oakland Athletics, who are already rumoured to end up in Nevada. Montreal, the former home of the Expos, is also on a short-list of five possible sites for expansion.

Shah notes even if Vancouver is selected as an expansion or re-location site, it could take four or five years before games actually take place here.

“If BC Place can’t be retrofitted — and right now, there are concerns about that — then it will be really, really difficult to get something up and running within a year or two. You’re talking about a long-term investment in a long-term project. I love it. I hope it happens. But I’m skeptical that it’s something that can be done really easily,” he said.

Shah also notes players would likely have to be paid in U.S. dollars.