The former home of the Winnipeg Whips (Class AAA; International League) and the Winnipeg Goldeyes (independent; American Association) is slated to be torn down next year after the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers move to a new stadium.
As a baseball venue, Canad Inns Stadium — the former Winnipeg Stadium — was always lacking, with a diamond awkwardly placed on a CFL playing field and a grandstand installed in the northwest corner of the stadium, meaning bases were laid out north-to-south and east-to-west during the last time a ball team took up residency there. The suites at the stadium were always too far away to be useful, and most of the seating was too far from the action to ever allow a team to create an intimate atmosphere.
Still, baseball was envisioned as being a big part of the Winnipeg Stadium offerings from the very beginning. It opened in 1953 and was built originally for use for CFL football and minor-league baseball: the affiliated Winnipeg Goldeyes of the original Northern League played there in 1953-1964. The original stadium configuration was slightly different then, with the grandstand located at the southwest corner (it was later torn down for Blue Bombers clubhouses). After the Northern League moved out of the market, Winnipeg officials worked to bring in another affiliated team when the the Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League) fled War Memorial Stadium under some nasty circumstances in June 1970 and took up refuge in Winnipeg for the rest of the 1970 season and the 1971 season. The Whips were actually a success at the box office but not overall financially; high travel costs (the closest IL team was Toledo) doomed the franchise. The Whips moved to Virginia and became the Peninsula Whips.
Still, give Canad Inns Stadium props for a few things. First, the Goldeyes served a mean smokie from grills located underneath that northwest grandstand. But more importantly, the presence of the facility allowed Sam Katz to bring in a Northern League team (the relocated Rochester Aces) and establish himself as a serious owner before cobbling together a funding plan for one of the great ballparks in all of baseball, Shaw Park. So let’s tip our hats to te historical significance of the old stadium one more time before the Blue Bombers enter a new era in team history.
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