Photos by Jim Flannery, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Athletic Park 1 Birch Ave SE Medicine Hat, AB T1A 0E6
Year Opened: 1977
Summer Evening in ‘The Hat’
Athletic Park has been the home of baseball in Medicine Hat for more than 40 years. The Pioneer League A’s played there in 1977, then were replaced by the Blue Jays in 1978. The Blue Jays rookie affiliate stayed in Medicine Hat until 2002, when they moved to Pulaski, Virginia.
When the Blue Jays moved out, the Mavericks moved in. Playing in the Western Major Baseball League, a collegiate summer league that operates out of Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Mavericks have won three league championships and two division championships in their 17 seasons.
The diamond itself is located just to the east of the downtown core, right on the banks of the Old Man River. Major river floods in 1995 and 2013 did significant damage to the park, resulting in a number of repairs and upgrades as well as the construction of a massive berm beyond the outfield wall to keep river waters in the river valley and out of the city proper.
Food & Beverage 4
A single food concession and a single adult beverage concession can be found on the outer ring of the grandstand, which is ostensibly the concourse area. For a typical crowd of around 800 fans, this seems to be more than adequate to handle the crowds. While the menu is small and simple, the food is very good. Try the Burger Combo: for $10 you get a freshly grilled burger a generously sized bag of Old Dutch potato chips, and a bottle of pop. In other venues, this combo could easily run you $15 and the burger could be sitting under a heat lamp waiting for you. The quality and value is much higher at Athletic Park.
Gluten-free and vegetarian options are also available.
Over at the “Bar” stand, there is a surprisingly wide variety of options for a relatively small stadium. Again, prices here are pretty reasonable ($6.25 for domestic beer; $7.25 for premium beverages).
A couple food trucks are also located behind the grandstand, adding a nice bit of variety to the food mix. Expect to pay a bit more if you’re going to one of these options, but also expect to get some quality food.
As with most of the WMBL diamonds, the overall atmosphere is low-key but pleasant, with people there to enjoy the warm summer weather as much as see a ballgame. The crowd applauds at the right moments and appears engaged.
The diamond itself is clean and tidy, with appropriate appointments, comfortable seats (the bleachers seats are standard metal benches), and good sight lines in all locations around the grandstand. There are some signs that the diamond needs a bit of TLC (some rust or worn paint here and there), but nothing obtrusive.
There are numerous pictures of teams past and championship banners throughout the facility, giving the place a sense of history and really giving it a feeling of home for the Mavericks
Athletic Park is located east of downtown, in a residential neighbourhood. It’s a nice, quiet area in an older part of town. But for the most part, it’s also few blocks on foot before you get to anything else of note.
Just beyond the left field wall is a large berm that was built in 2013 to mitigate the area against floods from the Old Man River, which runs through the heart of the city. You can actually sit down on the hill (or bring a lawn chair) to watch the game from beyond the outfield wall, if you’re so inclined.
On the other side of the berm is one of the larger rivers in the province of Alberta. It’s peaceful and picturesque, a lovely place for a walk. A couple blocks to the east you’ll find Lion’s Park, which features picnic areas, playground areas, tennis courts, fitness trails, and other goodies.
Heading west from the diamond you have to travel a few blocks before you reach a small commercial area nestled up against the railway tracks that divide east Medicine Hat from west. On N. Railway St. you’ll find the Mainliner Pub, which has a reputation for fun karaoke and a recently revised menu. There are a couple other options if you look hard enough, but food options are few and far between in this part of town.
Crossing the railway tracks into downtown, you’ll find more food options and a bit of sightseeing, including the World’s Largest Chess Set, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Situated between the Court of Queen’s Bench Building and the Public Library on 1 St. S.E. it is an interesting curiosity to check out while you’re in town.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the immediate vicinity, the rest of the city is easy and quick to get to—one of the advantages of being in a city this size is that you’re never too far away from anywhere.
As in most WMBL parks, the fans are fairly laid back and chill, but friendly and engaged. Cheers and boos happen when a big play is made and folks are happy to chat with new people in the stands.
The Mavericks draw about 800 fans per game, which is right around the league average. That leaves a fair bit of room between groups of people in a stadium with 2,200 seating capacity, but it doesn’t seem empty. Just a comfortable amount of room, the way Canadians like it.
If you aren’t familiar with the layout of Medicine Hat, finding your way across the train tracks from the downtown core to the diamond might be a bit of a challenge. However, once you find your way along the river under the tracks, the rest of the way is pretty easy.
Parking is free at the diamond and there’s lots of space. You might not want to park right at the stadium lot though, as this could put you in the line of fire for a foul ball or two. A safer location might be kitty corner from the diamond (to the south-west), in a lot right across the street from the city’s curling club.
City transit also runs regularly by Athletic Park. Fares are $3.25 per person.
Return on Investment 4
Bleacher seating for adults is $12, with front row seats costing $16. Children under 6 are free in the bleachers and only $8 in the front row seats. You can rent out one of the patios along the third base side for larger groups for $30 per person (for up to 68 people in the Source One Realty Patio), which also includes food and drink as well as servers taking care of you all evening.
Overall, this is an excellent deal for a night at the ballpark to see some talented young athletes performing.
The Mavericks have a mascot, Monty, roaming the stands during the game and helping with promotions.
All the typical between-innings promotions that you might expect to see happen here.
There is a nicely appointed Souvenir Shack along the third base concourse area, providing fans with all manner of hats, shirts, and other goodies like blankets, tote bags, and mini-bats.
The Mavericks have been a consistent contender in the WMBL for most of their franchise history. Coming out to see a game in a lovely, relaxing environment, with friendly people is a great way to spend a summer evening in “The Hat.”