Vancouver Hangs With The Big Boys In Minors’ Attendance Rankings

The sellouts have come so fast and furious at Nat Bailey Stadium in recent years that the Vancouver Canadians have stopped announcing when they happen. Falling under the category of a nice problem to have, the team has been staying mum about crowd size so fans on the outside looking in don’t get discouraged.

“We were selling out so much that the community started thinking that you can’t get in,” Canadians President Andy Dunn said. “We had to take a different approach and tell the community that you can get in, but you have to plan accordingly. You can’t show up at 6:30 on a game night thinking that you are going to get a ticket.”

Proof of the Northwest League franchise’s success can be found on the minor league attendance leaderboard. Sure, the top spots are filled by Triple-A powerhouses like the Charlotte Knights and Round Rock Express, who are separated by just 39 fans for the minor league lead. But down at No. 20 is the lone short-season team on the list: the plucky Vancouver Canadians.

Vancouver is averaging 6,221 fans per game this season, just 16 fewer than the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings one spot ahead of them. A team’s market often matters more than its classification, and the Canadians have built quite a following in sports-hungry Vancouver. The team is averaging just shy of its 6,413 capacity.

August 6 Attendance Tracker

“We’re trending up,” said Dunn, a baseball lifer who arrived in Vancouver in 2007 shortly after local businessmen Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney purchased the club to ensure it would stay in town.

Up is certainly not the direction the team had been heading before Kerr, Mooney and Dunn arrived. The owners, who grew up going to games at The Nat, bought the Canadians as a last hope to keep the struggling franchise playing at an old, outdated ballpark in town. They invested heavily in the community-owned ballpark, including a new videoboard, lighting and a naming-rights deal. They would later nearly double the size of the ballpark’s capacity.

Vancouver Canadians owners Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney
Vancouver Canadians owners Jeff Mooney, left, and Jake Kerr.

On the advice of veteran operator Mike Veeck, Kerr and Mooney lured Dunn, who had just moved back home to Florida after spending two years as a vice president with the Washington Nationals, to Vancouver to enhance the team’s relationship in the community and the gameday experience. Under Dunn’s guidance, the Canadians have built a Miracle League field, started a charitable foundation and launched a Little League program. On-field entertainment during games is entertaining but not outlandish, consisting primarily of a sushi mascot race and dancing groundscrew.

“We run it like a big league presentation,” Dunn said of the gameday entertainment. “We don’t use the term minor league here. We use the term baseball. This is a major league city. We don’t want to be thought of as minor league. We focus on guest experience, customer experience, customer service and food and beverage.

“It’s an old, old building, but . . . it is back to where it is the place to be. Everybody in Vancouver has so many memories of going to games there. The ballpark has as much affinity locally as Fenway Park does in Boston and Wrigley Field has in Chicago.”

Overall Minor League Attendance

*through August 5

Team Total Openings Average
Charlotte Knights 481,091 54 8,909
Round Rock Express 496,723 56 8,870
Nashville Sounds 485,219 56 8,665
Indianapolis Indians 461,181 54 8,540
Columbus Clippers 457,706 54 8,476
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 458,033 55 8,328
Albuquerque Isotopes 446,624 57 7,836
Dayton Dragons 437,494 56 7,812
El Paso Chihuahuas 429,117 56 7,663
Sacramento River Cats 412,052 55 7,492
Buffalo Bisons 381,932 51 7,489
Durham Bulls 420,081 57 7,370
Iowa Cubs 384,642 53 7,257
Toledo Mud Hens 414,927 58 7,154
Frisco RoughRiders 383,514 56 6,848
Oklahoma City Dodgers 361,421 55 6,571
Louisville Bats 371,143 57 6,511
Salt Lake Bees 350,274 55 6,369
Rochester Red Wings 311,829 50 6,237
Vancouver Canadians 149,304 24 6,221
Fresno Grizzlies 323,140 54 5,984
Richmond Flying Squirrels 273,090 46 5,937
Birmingham Barons 335,738 57 5,890
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 311,667 53 5,881
Hartford Yard Goats 333,912 57 5,858
Pawtucket Red Sox 312,775 55 5,687
Portland Sea Dogs 274,356 49 5,599
Fort Wayne TinCaps 310,628 56 5,547
West Michigan Whitecaps 291,580 53 5,502
Reading Fightin Phils 305,600 57 5,361
Kane County Cougars 256,038 48 5,334
Tulsa Drillers 291,514 55 5,300
Brooklyn Cyclones 132,382 25 5,295
Omaha Storm Chasers 269,621 52 5,185
Spokane Indians 138,965 27 5,147
Norfolk Tides 260,182 51 5,102
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 254,445 50 5,089
Tacoma Rainiers 284,296 56 5,077
Memphis Redbirds 278,359 55 5,061
New Hampshire Fisher Cats 254,045 51 4,981
Reno Aces 280,116 57 4,914
Trenton Thunder 284,514 58 4,905
Springfield Cardinals 267,791 55 4,869
Greensboro Grasshoppers 257,358 53 4,856
Akron RubberDucks 260,476 54 4,824
Greenville Drive 258,337 54 4,784
Corpus Christi Hooks 271,135 57 4,757
Tennessee Smokies 242,168 51 4,748
San Antonio Missions 259,574 55 4,720
South Bend Cubs 248,428 53 4,687
Las Vegas 51s 256,214 56 4,575
Lakewood BlueClaws 236,525 52 4,549
Lexington Legends 222,534 49 4,542
Altoona Curve 237,220 53 4,476
Lansing Lugnuts 245,320 55 4,460
Charleston RiverDogs 232,996 53 4,396
Arkansas Travelers 236,731 54 4,384
Northwest Arkansas Naturals 243,931 56 4,356
Pensacola Blue Wahoos 251,773 58 4,341
Winston-Salem Dash 218,668 52 4,205
Augusta GreenJackets 194,447 48 4,051
New Orleans Baby Cakes 206,765 52 3,976
Frederick Keys 210,424 53 3,970
Harrisburg Senators 202,132 51 3,963
Midland RockHounds 217,162 55 3,948
Syracuse Chiefs 193,262 49 3,944
Hudson Valley Renegades 82,161 21 3,912
Tri-City ValleyCats 88,935 23 3,867
Potomac Nationals 192,793 50 3,856
Columbia Fireflies 199,973 52 3,846
Colorado Springs Sky Sox 195,241 51 3,828
Wilmington Blue Rocks 195,814 52 3,766
Bowie Baysox 183,356 52 3,526
Montgomery Biscuits 189,894 54 3,517
Binghamton Rumble Ponies 177,011 51 3,471
Lowell Spinners 69,394 20 3,470
Ogden Raptors 93,572 27 3,466
Hillsboro Hops 93,502 27 3,463
Aberdeen IronBirds 79,615 23 3,462
Chattanooga Lookouts 187,267 56 3,344
Eugene Emeralds 89,272 27 3,306
Boise Hawks 77,744 24 3,239
Gwinnett Stripers 160,166 50 3,203
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 169,454 53 3,197
Myrtle Beach Pelicans 178,742 56 3,192
Peoria Chiefs 169,668 54 3,142
Lake Elsinore Storm 178,473 57 3,131
State College Spikes 76,240 25 3,050
Lake County Captains 163,630 54 3,030
Delmarva Shorebirds 166,048 55 3,019
Quad Cities River Bandits 168,255 57 2,952
Erie SeaWolves 141,526 49 2,888
Everett AquaSox 76,316 27 2,827
Idaho Falls Chukars 67,679 24 2,820
Salem Red Sox 136,503 49 2,786
Mahoning Valley Scrappers 63,981 23 2,782
Carolina Mudcats 147,253 53 2,778
Inland Empire 66ers 157,057 57 2,755
Billings Mustangs 60,457 22 2,748
Clearwater Threshers 150,843 55 2,743
Asheville Tourists 133,764 49 2,730
Great Lakes Loons 140,266 52 2,697
Stockton Ports 149,619 56 2,672
Pulaski Yankees 64,087 24 2,670
Bowling Green Hot Rods 137,948 52 2,653
Biloxi Shuckers 129,768 51 2,544
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 140,795 57 2,470
Grand Junction Rockies 58,668 25 2,347
Rome Braves 114,164 49 2,330
Tri-City Dust Devils 55,437 24 2,310
Johnson City Cardinals 45,827 20 2,291
Cedar Rapids Kernels 125,813 55 2,288
Mississippi Braves 131,536 58 2,268
Vermont Lake Monsters 53,382 24 2,224
Lancaster JetHawks 124,052 57 2,176
Modesto Nuts 115,975 54 2,148
Connecticut Tigers 53,596 25 2,144
San Jose Giants 115,767 57 2,031
West Virginia Black Bears 44,068 22 2,003
Daytona Tortugas 95,274 48 1,985
Missoula Osprey 43,673 22 1,985
Williamsport Crosscutters 45,426 23 1,975
Staten Island Yankees 47,303 24 1,971
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 45,924 24 1,914
Fort Myers Miracle 101,359 53 1,912
West Virginia Power 96,315 51 1,889
Down East Wood Ducks 95,687 53 1,805
Hickory Crawdads 92,057 51 1,805
Lynchburg Hillcats 86,434 50 1,729
Visalia Rawhide 102,332 60 1,706
Greeneville Reds 35,254 21 1,679
Jackson Generals 92,538 56 1,652
Charlotte Stone Crabs 76,705 47 1,632
Clinton LumberKings 87,080 54 1,613
St. Lucie Mets 84,952 55 1,545
Great Falls Voyagers 33,356 22 1,516
Orem Owlz 31,249 23 1,359
Bradenton Marauders 71,575 58 1,234
Auburn Doubledays 28,148 23 1,224
Burlington Royals 25,665 21 1,222
Mobile BayBears 58,281 50 1,166
Tampa Tarpons 62,464 55 1,136
Kannapolis Intimidators 54,033 48 1,126
Danville Braves 22,619 21 1,077
Hagerstown Suns 49,433 46 1,075
Palm Beach Cardinals 48,020 48 1,000
Jupiter Hammerheads 52,377 53 988
Lakeland Flying Tigers 42,235 46 918
Helena Brewers 20,950 23 911
Kingsport Mets 21,440 24 893
Burlington Bees 41,820 49 853
Beloit Snappers 40,641 48 847
Bristol Pirates 14,090 17 829
Princeton Rays 14,690 18 816
Batavia Muckdogs 19,052 24 794
Bluefield Blue Jays 14,799 22 673
Florida Fire Frogs 27,118 42 646
Elizabethton Twins 10,096 16 631
Dunedin Blue Jays 25,981 55 472
Buies Creek Astros 20,131 57 353

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