Port Arthur Stadium makes the semi-finals for the “Canada Favourite Ballpark”

Port Arthur StadiumThunder Bay – Larry Hebert, Board Chair of the Thunder Bay International Baseball Association (TBIBA), launched the semi-final round of on-line voting for Canada’s Favourite Ballpark today at the Port Arthur Stadium. Port Arthur Stadium begins a competition against Okotoks, Alberta’s Seaman Stadium for a chance to make it to the finals against the winner of the Trois-Riviéres – Stade Fernand-Bédard and London, Ontario’s Labatt Field in September.

“We were blown away by the support we received in the first round of voting. Our association knows what a great facility we have here and it was great to see that the rest of Thunder Bay agreed,” said Hebert, “I am a regular supporter of the Border Cats and a real baseball enthusiast. I’m proud of what we have here and I think the rest of Canada will soon know about this gem too.”

Voting begins today at 12 noon and runs until August 15th at 10:00 am. You can only vote online once per computer or smart phone, at the Baseball Canada site. www.baseball.ca.

“After eliminating Peace River, Brandon and Etobicoke, we knew we were on the right track in our strategy. We have had great support from the local media and we have tapped into social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Our Facebook group “Port Arthur Stadium – Canada’s Favourite Ballpark” had 100 members in the first day,” said Jeff Halvorsen, Vice President of the TBIBA. “Thunder Bay is an amazing community and if we all work together, we will make it to the finals.”

“This is a great facility”, said John Cameron, Tourism Officer for the City of Thunder Bay. “Port Arthur Stadium is the home of the Thunder Bay Border Cats, in the Northwoods League. The stadium seats just over 5,000 fans when portable bleachers are installed and last year, the Stadium hosted the very successful 2010 World Junior Baseball Championships drawing over 50,000 fans over the 10-day event. This historic ball field has also hosted national championships for the 1981 Canada Games, Little League Championships and the Canada Cup in 2004. We are lucky to have a field like this for our community.”

The Thunder Bay International Baseball Association is a not for profit organization that promotes baseball within Thunder Bay. Part of its mission is to bring regional, national and international baseball competitions to the city.

Here is a little history on the Port Arthur Stadium: In the post World War II era, Port Arthur and Fort William were full of hope and optimism. C. D. Howe, the Minister of “Everything” was the Member of Parliament for Port Arthur. The Rt Honourable Louis St.Laurent was the Prime Minister. The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the the Montreal Canadians in five games to win the Stanley Cup. And after 2 years of work and a staggering budget of $200,000, the Port Arthur Stadium was open. It eclipsed the McKellar Park and Queen’s Park diamonds in its shear audacity.

With its cement grandstand, dressing rooms and permanent refreshment stands; it was a thing of envy.

Opening day – July 16th, 1951 – 4,000 fans packed the Stadium to see a local all star team slug it out with the New York Bengals (St. Louis Browns rookie squad) and it has hosted cross-town rivals under the lights ever since.

It was initially home to a six-team league featuring many NHL players home for the summer. In recent years the stadium hosted the 1986 Canada Summer Games, Canadian Senior Little League Championships, the Northern League’s WhiskeyJacks, The Northwood League’s Border Cats, warm up events for the World Juniors and most recently the wildly successful 2010 World Junior Baseball Championships.

You can feel it when you walk through the gates – Port Arthur Stadium is one of Canada’s gems.