Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Canadian Baseball League

Hopefully by now the word is starting to spread about the folding of the IBL before its second season. This got me thinking about other failed baseball leagues. Do you remeber the Canadian Baseball League? Chances are you probably do not as the league did not last its entire inaugural season in 2003.

In the beginning Tony Rivera, who was a scout, said that this league would be AAA quality and would become a big deal. At the start things looked good. They got 8 teams together, they got a cable deal, and they had great attendance at the first game of 5,100 fans.

That was the end of the league being successful. The Montreal team started off on the wrong foot as they never got a stadium deal due to conflicts with the proposed leaving of the Expos. The rest of the teams went through huge attendance issues. Only the team in Victoria had more than 1500 fans a game. There were four teams that had less than 300 fans a game and when the league had field neutral games (not played in a home town), the games drew around 100-200 fans. To make matters worse, the cable station, Score, pulled out. Due to all of these issues, the League had to shut down. They decided end the league after the All-Star game.

At least the league ended off in style. According to the rules, if the game was tied at the end of 10 innings, the game would go to a homerun derby, which is what happened.

What does this mean? Well unlike Israel, the baseball market in Canada is very different. Professional baseball is played in Canada from teams in the Majors and Minors. (The argument can be made though that baseball is struggling in Canada in the past several years, they have lost the Montreal Expos due and the AAA Ottawa Linx due to attendance issues). Canada also has their own amateur leagues like the Intercounty Baseball League in Ontario.

What should have been looked at before this league existed was how baseball was existing in Canada. It was already there, some teams were strong, other teams were struggling. In hindsight there was no room for the Canadian Baseball League to exist.

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