Baseball in B.C. Place a thing of the past?

New scoreboard, turf field raise concerns about compatibility

Friday is the 28th anniversary of Canadas first indoor baseball game.

Whether baseball returns to B.C. Place Stadium after its scheduled Sept. 30 reopening is to be determined.

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The stadium is undergoing a $563 million renovation and will remain configured for baseball. But the new centre-hung, high definition scoreboard that will be attached to the housing for the retractable roofing fabric needs Major League Baseball approval.

We have asked MLB for a ruling on the scoreboard and required height but as yet we have not received a position, B.C. Pavilion Corporation president Warren Buckley told the Courier. None of the components of revitalization precludes us hosting a baseball series but we would have to upgrade some of the outfield components. In addition we would of course have to amend the [synthetic] turf for the bases.

Andy Dunn, president of the single-A, Northwest League Vancouver Canadians, said there have been talks with the parent Toronto Blue Jays about playing exhibition games at B.C. Place.

I do have some concerns about compatibility, however once we see it open and operating we'll have a better feel, Dunn said. Right now my concern would be height of the scoreboard. They are putting in a seamless turf [for soccer and football]. If you're putting in a seamless turf, how do you lay warning tracks, how do you lay infield? It can always be fixed if you threw enough money at it, but at the end of the day would it be economically feasible to try to pull it off?

Tony Oliva hit B.C. Places first home run off Juan Marichal on Aug. 12, 1983 in an old-timers game that preceded the Pacific Coast League Canadians 10-9 loss to the Phoenix Giants. Singer Gloria Loring and comedy legend Bob Hope also entertained the triple-A leagues record 41,875 crowd.

The dome hosted several Canadians regular season and playoff games and MLB exhibitions, but failed to attract a full-time tenant. Molson Brewery backed Vancouvers baseball bid at a time when the San Francisco Giants and Montreal Expos were looking for new homes. Vancouver was shut out, while Denver, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa Bay eventually got expansion teams.

The Blue Jays, Expos, Seattle Mariners and Colorado Rockies played in an April 1994 weekend exhibition at B.C. Place and the Mariners scheduled a May 1995 return to host the Baltimore Orioles in four regular season games. But that series was scuttled by MLB labour troubles.

The Mariners used their appearances at B.C. Place to market the team regionally and put pressure on the Washington state government to fund a new stadium in Seattle.

The club moved in 1999 from the Kingdome to the $517 million Safeco Field, which has a garage-door style retractable roof.

2010goldrush@gmail.com

Twitter: @bobmackin

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