Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium – Vancouver Canadians
Photos by Brian Helberg , Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium 4601 Ontario St Vancouver, BC V5V 3H4 Canada
Year Opened: 1951 Capacity: 5,132
Baseball Done Right North of the Border at The Nat
Referred to locally as The Nat, Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium has been home to baseball fans in Vancouver, British Columbia since 1951. Originally named Capilano Stadium, the historic facility was rebranded following the death of Vancouver icon, Nat Bailey, in 1978. Bailey was a part owner of the former Vancouver Mounties baseball team, and was beloved in British Columbia for founding the White Spot restaurant chain. Scotiabank Field was added to the lengthy name in 2007.
The Vancouver Canadians are the Short Season Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. They play in the Northwest League, and the C’s won the league for three consecutive seasons from 2011 to 2013. Vancouver was awarded with the prestigious John H. Johnson’s President’s Trophy in 2013. The award is handed out annually to the top Minor League franchise in baseball.
The C’s were busy expanding Nat Bailey Stadium in the offseason prior to the 2015 season. They added nearly 1,000 seats to raise their capacity to 6,013. The Hey Y’all Porch in left field is brand new, as are the seats lining the left field baseline. You will not find a 64 year-old stadium in better shape than The Nat.
Food & Beverage 5
Nat Bailey Stadium has a solid collection of food choices, sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. The main eating area is located in the concourse behind home plate. Food stands line both sides of the wide walkway.
The Canadians do a great job on the classic baseball cuisine. Hot dogs and hamburgers are aplenty, and they are tasty too. The C’s also have a wider array of food available, including sushi and pizza. The ‘Nooner’ burger is perfect for day games, as it is topped with egg, bacon, cheese and the patty.
If you have a sweet tooth, make sure you stop by the mini donut stand. It is the last hut on the back wall as you head towards the first baseline on your way back to the grandstand. The tiny treats are topped with cinnamon and brown sugar. They may not be the fanciest donuts you will ever see, but they are undeniably delicious. The donuts are a favorite among Vancouverites, and are doled out generously by the friendly vendors.
It’s hard to miss the Hey Y’all Porch in left field, and that’s lucky, because you are going to want to try their famous fried chicken and iced tea. The whole area is a new addition to the stadium, and is a hub of activity for fans looking to mingle during the game.
If you are attending the game in a group of 30 or more, the Hard Rock Casino Barbeque Picnic in the Park is the perfect place to take in Canadians baseball. Fans get a seat at a table under an umbrella down the right field line, plus all you can eat barbeque for just $40 a person.
The Vancouver area is home to many delectable craft beers, and naturally The Nat offers the best of the best. Named after the famed ski resort, the Whistler Brewing Company highlights the assortment of adult beverages. If the more traditional brews are more to your liking, you can find all the typical beers throughout the ballpark as well.
The atmosphere at The Nat is truly special. Fun is the goal, and the C’s have succeeded in this department. It is a beautiful stadium, highlighted by a view of the regal Queen Elizabeth Park. There is a wide range of ages working at the stadium, and everyone is extremely helpful and nice.
It is very family friendly at the park. There are special sections designated as alcohol free that might be good for families with small children. There are always kids baseball teams in attendance, and thus the stands are filled with young people. A pair of kids sang the National anthems (and rather well I might add) the most recent night I was there. Also, the club let a few youngsters throw out the ceremonial first pitches.
There are a few different kinds of seats. The grandstand area features wooden bleachers. The seats in the lower section behind home plate and the seats down the left field line are both made with a combination of plastic and metal.
The C’s have a number of special events in between innings designed to entertain fans of all ages. At the end of the 4th inning is the sushi race. Every game, four sushi mascots race down the right field line, competing for pride and for mini donuts.
The grounds crew is famous for their work on the diamond, and for their dance moves. At the end of the 5th inning, the crew trots out onto the field and dances along to a (usually embarrassing) song. The night I was there, the grounds crew left it all on the field dancing along to the New Kids on the Block hit, “Step by Step.”
At the end of the 6th, the fans get a little exercise by doing the chicken dance. The Canadians’ DJ puts the chicken dance song on blast, and the whole crowd dances along in unison.
Nat Bailey Stadium is located in central Vancouver, essentially sandwiched in between Cambie St. and Main St. It is largely residential in the immediate proximity to the park. However, Cambie and Main are just a few blocks away, and both streets boast impressive lineups of restaurants and bars. While the walkability of the neighborhood may not be on the Major League level, it is more than adequate for a Single-A stadium.
Queen Elizabeth Park is considered by many to be one of the most picturesque green spaces in the city. There is a lush floral conservatory, and plenty of walking trails. Seasons in the Park is a first class restaurant featuring breathtaking views and Northwest cuisine.
The Canadians have dominated the Northwest League in recent seasons, and their fans have grown accustomed to winning. They are very knowledgeable and take great pride in their team. Even if the C’s go down big early, the crowd never loses their enthusiasm.
There is a very balanced cross section of fans at Nat Bailey Stadium. There are equal numbers of families, young people, retirees and hardcore fans. There is a laid back feel for the most part, and rowdy spectators are not a concern. Fun is the reason most of these fans show up, and winning is just a bonus.
If you are a native Vancouverite, you will likely have little trouble getting yourself to Nat Bailey Stadium. If you are a visiting fan from out of town, you may find the area more difficult to navigate. If you are coming by car, prepare for plenty of traffic. Vancouver is famous for its congestion, and driving through the heart of the city during rush hour can lead to some white-knuckle moments. However, signs leading you to the stadium are easily spotted on Cambie and Main Street.
Parking is reasonably priced at $7, and there are ample spots. The main lots are located behind home plate and in the outfield behind the right field fence. The stadium is just one level, and there is a chance your vehicle could take a direct hit if you park behind home plate. There are no stands in right field, and a home run ball could find your windshield if you choose to park in the outfield. Being that Nat Bailey Stadium is located in a residential neighborhood, street parking is extremely limited, so choose one of the lots, but don’t go too close to the stadium when choosing your spot.
SkyTrain presents an intriguing option for fans. The SkyTrain is essentially a monorail system that runs through Vancouver. It may not be the most attractive transportation system, but it is a very efficient way to get around. The nearest SkyTrain station (King Edward) is located just over a kilometer away from the stadium. Another public transportation option is the bus. You can get to within 3 blocks if you take the buses that run along Main St. Taking the SkyTrain or bus will cost you between $2.75 and $5.50 depending on the time of day and distance you are traveling.
Return on Investment 5
The C’s do an amazing job providing fans with bang for their buck. Tickets are very economical, ranging between $14 and $25. You can find great seats in the grandstand behind home plate for $14, or you can sit in box seats closer to the action for $18. Sitting in the WestJet Diamond Club will run you $25, but they are considered the best seats in the house. Seniors (55+) can sit in the grandstand area for $11, and disabled seating can be found along the left field line for $11.
Food is a good deal for fans as well. You can pick up a hot dog for $5, and a foot long for $7. Burger’s cost $6.25, and pizza is reasonable at $6 for a large slice. Pretzels won’t break the bank at $5. Sugary treats are affordable, with mini donuts listed at $5 and ice cream at $4.50. Sushi is priced between $8 and $10 depending on the kind you want. Craft beer is currently $7.50 a glass.
All told, you can take in a Canadians’ game for a fraction of the cost of attending one of the other major sports games in Vancouver. In fact, you can watch a professional baseball game in a very enjoyable setting for roughly the same price as going to the movies. It is hard to beat the C’s return on investment.
The Canadians offer many promotions throughout the regular season. Every Sunday is an A&W Family Fun Sunday. Kids can take home anything from a batting helmet to a jersey on Sundays. There are also bobblehead giveaways featuring some of the more prominent players who have recently donned a Canadians uniform. The C’s occasionally provide fans with opportunities to meet some of their favorite ballplayers from the past. The 2015 season will feature appearances from Tommy John, Devon White, Pat Hentgen and Tony Fernandez. The highlight of the promotion schedule has to be the fireworks extravaganzas. The Canadians entertain fans with special post game fireworks after most Saturday night home games. In 2015 there are nine dates, and you don’t want to miss them.
There are multiple places to buy C’s gear at Nat Bailey Stadium. The first hut is located outside the stadium by the main entrance, where you can purchase hats and tees. Inside you will find a larger team store area near the end of the concourse on the third baseline. You can buy the same merchandise as outside, but there are a few additional items (jerseys, memorabilia, etc.) up for sale too.
There is a manually operated scoreboard in left-center field, and a giant video screen in center field shows replays.
There is a storied history with the C’s in Vancouver, and the organization does a fantastic job educating the public inside the ballpark. Murals and showcases discussing the history of the club and the famous names that have made stops in Vancouver line the main concourse. You get a great sense of how the franchise got its start, and how they have evolved into the one of the top Minor League organizations today.
There is a large kids play area in the left field corner that features an inflatable slide.
The C’s offer fans the opportunity to sit in non-alcoholic sections. Most teams have these types of sections, but these particular seats are in prime locations behind home plate. Inebriated fans are not much of an issue at The Nat, but these seats would be perfect for families with young children.
Perhaps my favorite extra is the special Canadians car that delivers pitchers into the game from the bullpen in left field. The car itself is a golf cart type of vehicle wearing a C’s hat for a roof. It drives the incoming hurler to the edge of the infield before heading back to the ‘pen.
While the actual baseball being played on the field may not be Major League quality, Nat Bailey Stadium offers a first class experience for fans of all ages. It is an enjoyable and affordable way to spend an evening in Vancouver. The people who work at the stadium are very polite and helpful. The fun factor cannot be beaten, and wandering around the stadium gives spectators a sense of childlike joy.
I highly recommend you take in a game at The Nat if you are ever lucky enough to be in Vancouver, BC.