Fort McMurray North American League team

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Fort McMurray NAL Team
Location Fort McMurray, Alberta
Ballpark MacDonald Island Park
Year founded 2008
Former name(s)
  • Victoria Seals (2009–10)
Former league(s)
Former ballparks
Ownership Westpro Productions
General Manager Lou Pote
Website fortmcmurrayprofessionalbaseball.com

The Fort McMurray North American League baseball team are an independent professional baseball team that will be based in Fort McMurray, Alberta, in Canada. They are owned by Westpro Productions and were to be members of the North American League slated to play in the Northern Division along with the Fullerton Flyers, Na Koa Ikaika Maui, San Rafael Pacifics and Yuma Panthers (NAL). They are expected to play their home games at MacDonald Island Park in 2013 following expansion of the facilities, but could play their first season as a road team in 2012.[1][2][3]

The league has since folded.

Franchise History[edit]

Victoria Seals logo (2009-2010)

The team started as the Victoria Seals in the now-defunct Golden Baseball League. They were founded on October 1, 2008 by owners Russ and Darren Parker. Russ is the former owner of the Pacific Coast League's Calgary Cannons (now known as the Albuquerque Isotopes) and the longtime owner of the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. At the time, they were the third Canadian team to join the GBL and they played their home games at Royal Athletic Park, a multipurpose sports stadium in Victoria which is also used for football, soccer and softball.

On-field Staff[edit]

On November 25, 2008, the Seals named former Major League infielder Darrell Evans as their first manager. Before joining the Seals, Evans was the first manager of the Long Beach Armada from 2005 to 2007, and last served as batting coach for the Orange County Flyers, who won the GBL title in 2008.[4] On March 4, 2010, Evans was fired as manager of the Seals after being discovered to have "solicited employment with another team".[5] That team is believed to be the Palm Springs Chill of the California Winter League.

On March 8, 2010, the Seals announced the hiring of former Major League All-Star Bret Boone as their new manager.[6] Boone is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest, having played for the nearby Seattle Mariners for several seasons during his major league career.

Joining Bret Boone in 2010 as members of the Seals' on-field staff are former major-leaguer Kip Gross as pitching coach, and second-year Seals catcher Josh Arhart, who along with regular playing duties will also serve as bench coach.[7]

On May 27, 2010, the Seals announced that Bret Boone had resigned from his position as field manager in order to deal with a personal family issue. Boone managed the team to a 3-2 record during his short stint with the club. It was further announced that pitching coach Kip Gross took on Boone's duties as field manager. Infielder Brian Rios also took on duties as a player/coach.[8]

Attendance[edit]

The Seals inaugural season boasted impressive attendance figures, with an average draw of 2,388 per game, good enough for second best in the GBL. Furthermore, average capacity was 53%, which was the highest overall capacity total in the league. By contrast, these numbers were higher than the GBL's other Canadian teams, the Calgary Vipers and the Edmonton Capitals, in both capacity percentage and total attendance. The Seals also missed a sellout by only 19 people on their final game of the 2009 season, with 4228 fans in attendance. They drew 10,045 fans on their final (three-game) home-stand, bringing their total attendance for 2009 to 93,691 fans.

Seals' demise, ownership change and relocation[edit]

On November 10, 2010, team owners Russ and Darren Parker announced that the team would be ceasing operations immediately after being unable to reach an agreement with the City of Victoria on the condition of the ballpark and the instability of the Golden Baseball League.[9] The GBL would later merge with the Northern League and United League Baseball to form the North American League.

On October 14, 2011, it was announced that the North American League granted Fort McMurray, Alberta, a new franchise. The ownership group, Westpro Productions, led by Craig Tkachuk (former general manager of the Edmonton Capitals), bought the rights to the original Seals franchise from the Parkers. However, Tkachuk admitted that MacDonald Island Park would not be ready for play in 2012 and the team could start their run as strictly a road team.[10][11][12] The North American League has since folded, but the franchise is hopeful to play baseball as soon as 2014 or 2015.

The team is rumored to be called the "Bluesox", but nothing has been mentioned.

References[edit]

  1. ^ North American League expands to Fort McMurray, October 14, 2011
  2. ^ Pro Baseball Comes to Fort McMurray, mymcmurray.com
  3. ^ Howlett, Trevor. Stadium architects OK by baseball team. Fort McMurray Today, 2011-12-14.
  4. ^ Evans to Manage Seals! Golden Baseball League website (November 25, 2008)
  5. ^ Victoria Seals Part Ways With Evans, OurSports Central, March 4, 2010
  6. ^ Seals hand reigns over to Boone, Victoria Seals website, March 8, 2010
  7. ^ http://www.victoriaseals.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=369:seals-unveil-coaching-staff&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=27
  8. ^ http://victoriaseals.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=424:seals-field-manager-steps-down&catid=42:rokstories
  9. ^ http://victoriaseals.ca/component/content/article/42-rokstories/665-seals-cease-operations
  10. ^ North American League expands to Fort McMurray, October 14, 2011
  11. ^ Pro Baseball Comes to Fort McMurray, mymcmurray.com
  12. ^ Howlett, Trevor. Stadium architects OK by baseball team. Fort McMurray Today, 2011-12-14.

External links[edit]