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Nat Bailey Stadium / Vancouver Canadians

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Nat Bailey Stadium began life as Capilano Stadium, the home of the legendary Vancouver Capilanos of the Western International League. (What's a Capilano? It was a local brewery.) It's been the psychic center of baseball in British Columbia since there, serving as the home of the Vancouver Capilanos ("Caps"), the Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League, the Vancouver Canadians of the Pacific Coast League, and now the Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League.

FAST FACTS

Year Opened: July 15, 1951 as Capilano Stadium
Capacity: 6,500
Dimensions: 335L 395C, 335R
Website: www.canadiansbaseball.com
Phone: 604/872-5232
League: Northwest League
Affiliation: Oakland Athletics
Ticket Prices: Diamond Club, $20; Box Seats, $14; Reserved Grandstand, $11 ($9 for seniors).
Parking: There is parking adjacent to the ballpark.
Address/Directions: 4601 Ontario St., Vancouver. The ballpark is across the street from Queen Elizabeth Park, one of the larger and nicer parks in Vancouver. If you follow the signs to Queen Elizabeth Park, you'll find the ballpark.

It's been changed several times since it first opened, mostly to increase and decrease capacity over the years. While it was far too small for the PCL Canadians (who ended up moving to Sacramento), it's one of the larger ballparks in the short-season Northwest League, and the team draws pretty well.

One thing that has never changed: the incredibly scenic location of the ballpark. All of Vancouver is incredibly scenic, but Nat Bailey Stadium benefits from its location on the edge of a large city park, surrounded by forest and mountains, including Queen Elizabeth Park.

The grandstand seating is interesting. The first six rows are standard theater-style seats, with many featuring the names of season-ticket holders. Beyond that, though, there are backed bleachers, which curve to fit the contour of the grandstand. Most curved grandstands feature box seating that can more easily follow the curve; these are instead designed to fit into a curved place.

While these bleacher seats are not original (judging by older photos of the ballpark), they do fit well within the historic atmosphere of the park. The ballpark probably belongs at the short-season level, however. All the concessions are located in the grandstand away from the action; you'll miss the action when you head out for a hot dog and brew. There are no luxury boxes.

History
Nathaniel Ryan "Nat" Bailey was born in St. Paul, Minn., and moved with his family to Vancouver at the age of 11. As a youngster, Bailey sold peanuts at Vancouver sporting events held at Athletic Park and was known as "Caruso Nat," calling out batters' names in his musical tenor from the bleachers high above the diamond. He's best known as the founder of the first drive-in restaurant in Canada in 1928 -- the White Spot Barbeque (which is still around, by the way) -- in a small log hut at 67th and Granville, serving "Triple-O" burgers to patrons in their cars. The White Spot grew into a regional chain, which gave Bailey time to pursue his other passion, baseball. His love of broadcasting was cut short by voice problems, so he ended up part-owner of the Vancouver Mounties and worked his entire life promoting baseball in the region. His hard work was recognized by the renaming of Capilano Stadium as Nat Bailey Stadium in 1978.

The ballpark is also the home of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.

WHERE TO STAY
There are no hotels within walking distance of Nat Bailey Stadium: it's on the edge of a large city park which itself is in the middle of a residential area, so you can forget about staying close to the ballpark.

Now, having said that, there are plenty of hotels located less than three miles from the ballpark. Pretty much any hotel in downtown Vancouver is fair game: that would include the Pacific Palisades Hotel (1277 Robson St.), Holiday Inn Vancouver Centre (711 W. Broadway Av.), Hampton Inn and Suites (111 Robson St.), the Westin Grand (433 Robson St.), Residence Inn (1234 Hornby St.), Holiday Inn Vancouver Downtown Tower and Suites (1110 Howe St.), Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre (1088 Burrard St.), Crowne Plaza Hotel Georgia (801 W. Georgia), Hyatt Regency Vancouver (655 Burrard St.) and Marriott Vancouver Pinnacle (1128 Hasting St. W.).

The ballpark is also five miles or so from the airport, so you can stay at one of the many chains setting up shop in the area.