If you raise it, will they come?

Scoreboard the only barrier to MLB exhibition at B.C. Place

The Toronto Raptors meet the Sacramento Kings at Rogers Arena in Vancouver for an Oct. 5 NBA exhibition game. Will the Toronto Blue Jays make B.C. Place Stadium their nest for a couple of exhibition games next spring?

B.C. Place may very well have a vacancy, but the real issue is whether the centre-hung videoboard is too much of an obstacle for batted balls. A source told me that North America’s second-biggest message machine/ad revenue generator was draped and raised as high as it could go on Sept. 23 for pop-fly tests. The very bottom of the videoboard was still just over 100 feet above the field of play. The source told me that a batted ball did break part of the ribbon board on the bottom of level four.

Vancouver Canadians’ normally effervescent broadcaster/spokesman Rob Fai did not respond. President Andy Dunn did, but he declined to comment. The C’s are the Jays’ single A, Northwest League affiliate and regional rights holder.

B.C. Place videoboard: in the way of baseball?
B.C. Place videoboard: in the way of baseball?

The stadium was originally built with baseball in mind. There was even a concerted push in the 1980s by Molson Brewery for an MLB expansion franchise. While the stadium was under renovations in 2011, then-B.C. Pavilion Corporation CEO Warren Buckley told me that baseball was not in the plans, because the chance of luring a full-time Major League Baseball franchise was dim. Dunn also had many questions back in 2011, not the least of which being the big obstacle under the big top.

If the scoreboard problem can be solved and the Jays do come west for a weekend, don’t expect the Seattle Mariners to come north.

“We are already committed to a spring schedule in 2015, so we don’t see a possibility of playing a preseason game in Vancouver in 2015,” said Mariners’ senior vice-president of communications Randy Adamack.

By the way, wish B.C. Place Stadium a happy third anniversary of its reopening on Sept. 30. The public-owned, money-losing venue needs all the good luck it can get.

This is what I wrote about the significance of the building and the risky investment on the renovations in the Sept. 30, 2011 edition of the Vancouver Courier. This is my Sept. 4, 2014 story in The Tyee, posing the question: is this the B.C. Liberals’ answer to the NDP’s fast ferries fiasco?

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