West Coast League baseball is landing in Nanaimo.
The WCL, which is currently made up of 12 teams including Canadian entries in Victoria and Kelowna, is expanding to 13 teams with the addition of Nanaimo. The to-be-named club’s inaugural season is set for 2021. Nanaimo will play its home games at Serauxmen Stadium.
The team will be owned by the same company that has successfully operated the Victoria HarbourCats at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park. That group took over the team, which debuted in the WCL in 2013, in the late spring of 2015, with ownership including John Wilson (of Wilson’s Transportation), Richard Harder, and brothers Ken and Jim Swanson. Jim Swanson is the Managing Partner and will oversee operations in both Nanaimo and Victoria.
“When I visited Nanaimo two years ago, I fell in love with both Serauxmen Stadium and the city itself,” said WCL Commissioner Rob Neyer. “As both Commissioner of the West Coast League and just a devoted baseball fan, I’m looking forward to many summers of top-flight baseball in The Harbour City.”
“Creating a baseball organization from whole cloth is never easy. But this ownership group and management team have proved in Victoria-proved many times over, actually-that they know exactly how to build not just an organization, but a winning organization on Vancouver Island. I have every expectation that Nanaimo’s new team will rank with Victoria among the league’s jewels.”
“This is an exciting day for us all. This has been in the works for a few years and it’s going to be a great new addition to the Nanaimo sports scene,” said John Wilson, the team’s Vice-President/Business, whose Wilson’s Group of Companies has operations based in both Nanaimo and Victoria, serving the entire Island.
“The successful program that has been built in Victoria will now have an Island rival, to go along with the other natural rivalries already in place with, in particular, Port Angeles, Kelowna and Bellingham. Fans from Mid-Island area know we’ve had many Island players, remembering the stellar play of Griffin Andreychuk, Adam McKillican, Alex Rogers, Garrett Goodall and others, and the level of baseball will be the highest Nanaimo has ever seen.”
“We’re thrilled in Port Angeles with the addition of a WCL team in Nanaimo,” said Port Angeles Lefties owner Matt Acker. “I’ve been lucky to visit Nanaimo with Jim Swanson when this was just a thought. You can definitely can see the potential in the stadium and I was really impressed with the local officials. Nanaimo’s proximity to Port Angeles is also a plus for us. There are a lot of similarities in our communities. We have the utmost confidence in the ownership who has proven themselves as first-class owners in Victoria and we are looking forward to a future rivalry.”
Thanks to the efforts of all the baseball stakeholders involved, and to the City of Nanaimo, West Coast League baseball is coming to Nanaimo’s Serauxmen Stadium. The City is installing lighting at historic Serauxmen Stadium starting this month, which will benefit all including the Nanaimo Minor Baseball Association, the Coal Miners senior program, the Pirates of the BC Premier Baseball League, the VIU Mariners team, and of course the new Nanaimo WCL Baseball Club. City Council played a significant role in making lights a reality and in making possible further facility improvements that will be rolled out to enhance the fan and user experience.
“What a fantastic addition to the Third Street sports zone,” said Leonard Krog, Mayor of the City of Nanaimo. “We are pleased to see this partnership grow and welcome the team and the WCL to iconic Serauxmen Stadium.”
The Nanaimo WCL team today is unveiling a website that will include easy links to a Name-The-Team Contest, and ways to get in line for best choice of seats for Season Tickets, or for placements with corporate advertising. That website is nanaimobaseball.com. The team will have an office set up beginning in September, but will be working closely with the community throughout the spring and summer. There are options for season ticket commitments up to three years, reducing the price at multiple years, and interested parties will be contacted in the order they submit information. Seat selection will be handled in order of paid commitments.
The Nanaimo WCL baseball club is setting a cap on season tickets at 550, to allow some seats to be available on a game-by-game basis. Corporate partnership opportunities will be handled in the same priority submission basis.
The Victoria and Nanaimo teams will be separately operated, with independent coaching staffs and independent recruiting processes – competitive in every way. The Nanaimo team’s name and coaching staff are expected to be unveiled this coming summer.
“We have so many people to thank, beginning with members of council currently and even dating back three-plus years, and the entire board that has led the transformation of Serauxmen Stadium, led by Lorne Goodall and Dan Rogers,” said Jim Swanson. “Mike Holyk and minor baseball, the people with the Coal Miners, and the leadership of VIU and the Pirates have all been excited to see this moving ahead. We look forward to great ideas from people in Nanaimo on what to name the team, and to having people select the seats they want for 2021 and beyond. As a group, we’d love nothing more than to see Nanaimo’s WCL team and the HarbourCats meet in the playoffs.”
About the West Coast League: The West Coast League (WCL) is the premier summer collegiate baseball league west of the Mississippi. Situated in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the fifteen-year-old, twelve-team, professionally operated wood-bat league showcases pro prospects from major conferences around the nation. Every summer, the league features unparalleled fan and player experiences, with the best summer weather in North America. Ninety alums and current players of WCL teams were selected in the 2019 MLB Draft, including No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman. In 2019, 317 WCL alums appeared or were active in affiliated professional baseball, including 45 in the major leagues, such as 2019 MLB All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber (Cleveland Indians); star outfielder Mitch Haniger (Seattle Mariners); hurler James Paxton (New York Yankees); slugger Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia Phillies); and rising star pitchers Marco Gonzales (Seattle Mariners) and Matt Boyd (Detroit Tigers). In 2019, overall member attendance increased to 497,050.