The Vancouver Canadians’ Growing Success

Vancouver Candians | BCBusiness
The Vancouver Canadians celebrate their third consecutive Northwest League title.

The third-straight Northwest League champions cap off a great year on and off the field

Ladner, B.C., native Tom Robson pitched six-and-a-third run-free innings as the Vancouver Canadians beat the Boise Hawks 5-0 on Monday, September 9, to capture their third consecutive Northwest League title. A raucous crowd shrieked for the sushi race and the dancing groundskeepers’ performance of Dirty Dancing’s The Time of My Life just as much as play on the field. It was a virtually perfect night—typical, these days, for the home team.

Vancouver Canadians principal owner Jake Kerr began turning around the Canadians when he and co-owner Jeff Mooney purchased the franchise in 2007. Since then, attendance has gone up every year. In 2013 attendance increased 26 per cent over the previous year’s strong season. The Canadians boasted 22 sellouts over 38 dates, 184,042 total visitors and not a single rainout.

Joe Carter from 1993 World Series-winning Toronto Blue Jays headlined this year’s Superstar Appearance Series, the most successful of a long list of popular promotions. “Joe’s a wonderful guy,” says Kerr, beaming. “He started signing autographs before the game started and he was still signing autographs with a huge lineup long after it was over. He really was quite phenomenal.”

The Canadians have one more promotion on tap—which is intended to target women—before wrapping up for the season. Yoga at the Nat runs Tuesday, September 17, at 5:30 p.m., hosted by YYoga, with admission by donation to benefit the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation.

For the past three years, the Foundation has sponsored an underprivileged kids’ league, working with the Boys and Girls Clubs. Kerr is a big supporter. “We provide the facilities. We provide hotdogs and we provide the coaches and umpires—all of them volunteers. They provide the transportation and they provide 350 kids.

“These are kids that would not be playing organized baseball, and they all got a chance to play at their level. We actually are developing some pretty good little 10-year-olds.”  

On the horizon, Kerr is planning more stadium upgrades for a better—and possibly bigger—fan experience. “We don’t know how many people we’re turning away,” says Kerr. “People come with their kids and they’re very disappointed. They’ve always been able to get a ticket, and you feel badly. We’re partners with the Parks Board and we’re going to be having a dialogue with them.”

The on-field success has come since the Canadians switched their major league affiliation to the Toronto Blue Jays three years ago. “You have to give them tremendous credit as a partner,” says Kerr. “The team outperformed our expectations. It was a terrific year.”