Kamloops is Home to the West Coast League’s Newest Franchise
September 9, 2020 | Kamloops, B.C.
Canada’s Tournament Capital just added another sports team to its roster, the Kamloops NorthPaws. The announcement on September 9 was surrounded by much socially distanced fanfare at Norbrock Stadium, the home of the NorthPaws when they begin play. The special event featured ballpark hot dogs, refreshments, great music, prizing for attendees, and a lively atmosphere, something the ownership group will continue when the team takes to the field for its inaugural season in the summer of ‘21.
“Our group is thrilled to bring the West Coast League (WCL) to Kamloops,” said Norm Daley, one of the owners of the Kamloops NorthPaws. “This league is one of the premier collegiate summer leagues in North America and the skill level is incredible. Some of the guys who play in the WCL go on to play in the majors, which means fans are going to experience an elevated level of play at Norbrock next summer.”
The other owners include Neal Perry and Jon Pankuch. Together, the group has been dreaming about bringing a team to the city for years. Now, the dream has become a reality and the group is excited about what this means for baseball and family entertainment in a city they all love.
“The experience of a NorthPaws gameday will start out in the parking lot and continue on into the stadium,” said Pankuch. “Our goal is to create the ultimate entertainment experience and we know that it is all about the fan experience – with baseball attached. NorthPaws gamedays will be one of the hottest tickets because it will be affordable and the games, prizing, music, and activities will keep everyone entertained for hours. We can’t wait for the first gameday and being able to safely play and host fans in the stands.”
Currently, the owners are working on finding a coach and team manager to help them build the team. They anticipate the NorthPaws will be one of the teams many players will want to play for because of the world class reputation of baseball in the community.
“We have our feelers out now to build our roster of NCAA Division 1 and 2 players, and we will have the opportunity for local players to wear the NorthPaws jersey too,” said Daley. “We want to enhance the sport of baseball in our community and let local baseball players know there’s this opportunity potentially in their future.”
Echoing the excitement of the Kamloops franchise owners is WCL Commissioner, Rob Neyer.“Kamloops has a thriving atmosphere for amateur sport in B.C., so collegiate summer ball is obviously a great fit,” said Neyer from his home in Portland, Oregon. “The WCL’s level of play is outstanding, ranking among baseball’s top summer collegiate leagues, which makes for intense games and a tremendous fan experience. As a new team, the NorthPaws face a stiff challenge, and it will be fun seeing them face off against the established clubs, especially their B.C. brethren. Congratulations to Kamloops, and welcome to the West Coast League!”
Another new team to the WCL is the Nanaimo NightOwls, owned by the same group who have the always competitive Victoria HarbourCats team – the league’s attendance leaders. The owners of the NorthPaws are already making plans to emulate the success of the HarbourCats in terms of attendance and on the field play.
“We love the rivalries in this league because it’s what fuels players on the field, and adds excitement to the game for fans,” said Jim Swanson, General Manager of the HarbourCats. “The Kamloops ownership has the right approach and the gameday experience — cold beer, tons of fun, sold-out crowds — will ensure fans have a great time. We look forward to playing Kamloops next summer and can’t wait for the NorthPaws to give it their best shot against our teams, the HarbourCats and NightOwls.”
The NorthPaws owners are already anticipating great interest from Kamloops fans and local businesses who will want to get involved to make the inaugural season a success.
“We’re tentatively looking at June 4th as our season opener and we’ll have the confirmed schedule by October to share,” said Perry. “A WCL season consists of 54 league games – 27 at home and 27 away – before the league heads into a four team playoff series. We encourage businesses and fans to head to our website www.NorthPawsbaseball.ca and sign up for our newsletter which is where we’ll share team updates, ticketing options, sponsorship information, and news.”
Fans can also follow the team on social media: @NorthPawsbaseball on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. @NorthPawsbb on Twitter
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