OTTAWA- After four weeks of preliminary voting and two semi-final rounds, Canada’s Favourite Ballpark contest is down to the final two parks. Port Arthur Stadium from Thunder Bay, ON and Labatt Park in London, ON will go head-to-head to determine Canada’s Favourite Ballpark.
Voting will end on September 6th at 10am ET.
Best of luck to both parks!
Labatt Memorial Park – London, Ontario
There is no doubt that Labatt Memorial Park in London, Ontario is Canada’s favourite ballpark. It must be, as whenever a true fan of the grand old game visits the park, particularly for the first time, a smile erupts, as they look around to capture the “aura of baseball” that dominates the setting. Canada’s and arguably the world’s oldest continuously operating baseball park, Labatt Memorial Park, hosted its first game on May 3, 1877. Just three weeks later, in front of 8,000 fans, the National League Champion – Boston Red Stockings edged the London Tecumsehs 7-6. The park has been owned by the City of London since 1936. A new grandstand was built for the 2001 Canada Games.
The park is used constantly and for the past 134 years has been the home of minor, senior and professional baseball. Mooney Gibson, Satchel Paige, Ferguson Jenkins, Lester B. Pearson and Wayne Gretzky are just some of the notables who have played at the park. The field is maintained in pristine condition by the City of London, as a tribute to players past and present; a true community treasure and worthy of the title of Canada’s Favourite Ballpark.
Port Arthur Stadium – Thunder Bay, ON
In the post World War II era, Port Arthur and Fort William were full of hope and optimism. Louis St.Laurent was PM. The Leafs beat the Habs in five to win the Cup. And after 2 years of work and a staggering budget of $200,000, the Port Arthur Stadium was open. It eclipsed the McKellar Park and Queen’s Park diamonds in its shear audacity. With it cement grandstand, dressing rooms and permanent refreshment stands; it was a thing of envy.
Opening day - July 16th, 1951 – 4,000 fans packed the Stadium to see a local all star team slug it out with the New York Bengals (St. Louis Browns rookie squad) and it has hosted cross-town rivals under the lights ever since.
It was initially home to a six-team league featuring many NHL players home for the summer. In recent years the stadium hosted the 1980’s Canada Summer Games, Canadian Senior Little League Championships, the Northern League’s WhiskeyJacks, The Northwood League’s Border Cats, warm up events for the World Juniors and most recently the wildly successful 2010 World Junior Baseball Championships.
You can feel it when you walk through the gates - Port Arthur Stadium is one of Canada’s gems.