The Victoria HarbourCats are on the prowl to launch a team in Nanaimo.
The HarbourCats baseball team’s ownership group of John Wilson, Rich Harder, Ken Swanson and managing partner Jim Swanson have notified the West Coast League – one of the top collegiate summer leagues in North America – of their intention to place a team in Nanaimo for the 2020 or 2021 season.
“Nanaimo would be an ideal market for a WCL team and make for natural rivalries with Victoria, Bellingham, Port Angeles and Kelowna in particular,” Wilson, HarbourCats vice-president, said in a statement. “Jim Swanson, has dedicated many hours to researching and creating business projections. Not only do the numbers work out positively, Nanaimo has proven to be an excellent sports town with a rich history in baseball.”
Under league rules, ownership groups can own more than one team as long as each club sets up different baseball operations to maintain fairness and competitiveness.
The process underway involves completing an expansion arrangement with the WCL, a user agreement with the Serauxmen Stadium Amateur Baseball Association, the board that runs historic Serauxmen Stadium, and working out arrangements with the City of Nanaimo.
WCL commissioner Rob Neyer said he was “tremendously impressed by the local passion for bringing top-flight summer baseball to this jewel of a stadium. It definitely has the potential to provide a great baseball experience at the summer collegiate level.”
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said the city supports the expansion of the league in Nanaimo and is committed to providing assistance and co-operation to ensure the team is successful at Serauxmen Field.
Lorne Goodall, president of the Serauxmen Stadium Amateur Baseball Association, said the organization is excited to be working with the city and stadium user groups to add lights, upgrades and renovations to the stadium to help make the team a reality.
Swanson said many aspects of the successful operation in Victoria can be put in place in Nanaimo, and a collaborative effort with all stakeholders has helped drive the initiative forward.