It’s been 963 days since baseball was played at Vancouver’s Nat Bailey Stadium.
On April 19, the Vancouver Canadians return to the venerable stadium — the first of 66 home games — following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
For those who haven’t been to the Nat before, or who haven’t been for a long time (all of us), here are some tips to make sure your experience cheering on the Canadians is a guaranteed home run.
What’s new at Nat Bailey Stadium?
Most baseball fans will notice that this year’s season now starts in April rather than the usual June. That’s because Major League Baseball (MLB) revamped the structure of the minors. The Vancouver Canadians made the jump from the short-season to the full-season league, resulting in a higher level of baseball and a longer season.
Teams go head-to-head for six consecutive games from Tuesday to Sunday.
The first team to face the C’s in town are the Eugene Emeralds, an affiliate for the San Francisco Giants.
How and where do I buy tickets?
Tickets are be purchased online, over the phone at 604-872-5232 or in person at the stadium’s box office.
The Canadians pride themselves on providing one of the best deals for your buck, especially in pricey Vancouver. Tickets start at $20 for reserved seats on the grandstand. Prices went up by a toonie since 2019 but still a bargain.
“Here, a family of five can come to the ballpark and it won’t cost them their mortgage,” said club president Andy Dunn.
But do buy the tickets in advance, as games often sell out early.
Where are the best seats?
There’s 6,500 seats at the Nat and there’s not a bad seat in the house, said Dunn.
It’s down to personal preference. Dunn likes to sit behind first base. The spot behind third base are also good, but some skip them because the sun will often set in their eyes.
Those who prefer to be closer to the action can also shell out a few extra bucks to snag a seat in the Westjet Plus Zone, which puts them in a separate box section right along the baselines. Seats in these zones are separated with arm rests, if you prefer not to rub elbows with others on the grandstand benches.
What’s the best way to get to Nat Bailey Stadium?
The historic stadium is tucked into the northeast corner of Queen Elizabeth Park between Cambie and Main Streets.
It’s easily accessible via transit. The Cambie bus (15) or Main Street bus (3) will take you within walking distance of the venue, while the 29th Avenue Station/UBC bus (33) will deposit you about a three-minute stroll away. The Nat is also 20 minutes away on foot from King Edward Station on the Canada Line.
Parking and bike valet available on-site.
What should I expect at the game?
Great customer service, and affordable night, and a fun time, said Dunn. “We live and breathe providing great entertainment and leaving people with a memory.”
The club is known to put an emphasis on customer service, which has been cited as a key to baseball nights at the Nat becoming a popular summer pastime, especially in Vancouver’s crowded sports marketplace.
In-game entertainment often includes a stadium-wide rendition of, what else? “Take Me Out to the ball game” and the classic Chicken Dance. On-field entertainment includes fun dance choreography while the outfield is maintained, and you might even see some speedy sushi. (You’ll understand once you see a game.)
What kind of food is available?
If you’re here for the food, the Nat won’t disappoint. The venue has classic concession fare such as peanuts, popcorn, and Dunn’s personal recommendation, the three-foot hotdog. But the stadium also serves up some unique food offerings.
Don’t miss the home plate pretzel, which is about the size of a medium pizza and comes in a pizza box, or the tottine, a poutine with tater tots instead of fries.
The Nat also offers a rotating selection of craft beer. Vegetarian and vegan options — as well as sushi — are also available (this is Vancouver after all).
What are some special events to keep an eye on?
Some of the C’s most popular and typically sold-out events are its Friday ‘nooners, A&W Family Fun Sundays, and fireworks nights.
This season, there will be nine fireworks nights, which are always a hit. What better way to celebrate a win or distract from the sorrows of a defeat than post-game pyrotechnics that light up the night sky?
The Family Fun Sundays feature giveaways and a fun experience: Kids 12 and under are welcome to come down to the field after the game to run the bases.
And the Friday ‘nooners? “People like to cut out of work early and come to the ballpark and have a beer and a hotdog,” said Dunn with a chuckle. “It’s a long-standing tradition.”
What’s the stadium’s bag policy?
In order to zip through security, carry clear purses or bags which do not require a bag check. Other bags, including purses, backpacks, mesh bags, fanny packs, and camera and binocular cases, will have to undergo a bag check.
Bags that are larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″ are not allowed into the stadium.
Diaper bags are OK provided they fit under your seat. The bags must be accompanied by babies.
More information on what you can or can’t bring to the stadium.
Any tips or tricks to boost my game experience?
Buy tickets in advance, especially for popular games. Get to the stadium early, so you’re not rushing. Check out the concession stands. Then sit and bask in the summer sunshine and enjoy the game. Play ball!