Baseball fans fill Nanaimo’s Serauxmen Stadium last summer for an exhibition game involving the Victoria HarbourCats. NEWS BULLETIN file photo

Victoria baseball club interested in starting up a team in Nanaimo

HarbourCats ownership group discusses expansion plans with West Coast League

Serauxmen Stadium has been a home away from home for the Victoria HarbourCats the past few years, and that sort of high-level ball could become a regular occurrence in Nanaimo.

The HarbourCats baseball club put out a press release Friday advising that it has given “full notice” to the West Coast League of an intention to launch an expansion team in Nanaimo in 2020 or 2021.

The HarbourCats say league rules allow the same ownership group to own more than one team, provided the clubs have separate baseball operations staff.

John Wilson, vice-president of the HarbourCats, said in the release that Nanaimo would be an “ideal market” for the summer collegiate league and would have natural rivalries with Victoria, Kelowna, Bellingham and Port Angeles teams. He said managing partner Jim Swanson has created business projections, and “not only do the numbers work out positively, Nanaimo has proven to be an excellent sports town with a rich history in baseball.”

The HarbourCats say they will now start trying to complete agreements with the Serauxmen Stadium Amateur Baseball Association and the City of Nanaimo. Last July, the Serauxmen association organized Baseball Week in Nanaimo, culminating in an exhibition game involving the HarbourCats.

“When I was in Nanaimo last summer, I was tremendously impressed by the local passion for bringing top-flight summer baseball to this jewel of a stadium,” said Rob Neyer, commissioner of the WCL. “It definitely has the potential to provide a great baseball experience at the collegiate summer level.”

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said in the release that the city supports the expansion of the West Coast League into Nanaimo and would be committed to providing assistance and co-operation to ensure the new team is set up for success.

“There are many aspects of our successful operation in Victoria that we can put in place in Nanaimo, and I’m excited this will allow baseball fans on the Island to see more great baseball,” said Swanson.

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