By IAN WILSON
Take me out to the ball game, indeed.
Fans of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) turned out in force in 2022, setting numerous attendance records throughout the summer.
During the regular season, the WCBL welcomed more than 265,000 spectators to nearly 300 games, resulting in an average attendance of more than 900 fans per game. That was a new high for the summer collegiate circuit and several individual markets also reached new levels.
The Okotoks Dawgs led the charge, drawing 113,825 baseball watchers to Seaman Stadium for 27 games. Their average crowd of 4,216 fans placed them fourth overall out of 170 North American summer collegiate teams this year, according to Ballpark Digest. The Dawgs opened the gates to their one millionth fan in franchise history in June and then played host to the 2022 WCBL All-Star Game & Home Run Derby in July. The All-Star event attracted 6,000 fans to Seaman Stadium and raised the bar for the mid-summer festivities.
In their second WCBL season, and first full campaign, the Sylvan Lake Gulls finished second in the league in overall attendance, with 36,136 observers checking out 28 home dates. They drew an average of 1,291 people per game.
Renovations at Athletic Park – including the addition of field-level seating – helped the Medicine Hat Mavericks become the third most popular club in the league. Their 32,986 boosters were a franchise record, resulting in an average of 1,178 visitors per game.
In Regina, more than 20,000 baseball enthusiasts turned out to cheer on the Red Sox at Currie Field, giving them an average crowd of 800 fans each contest.
Buoyed by their first playoff berth in team history, the Fort McMurray Giants established a new benchmark for overall attendance, with 19,431 fans showing up to Legacy Dodge Field this summer. More than 700 spectators showed up for Giants home games, on average.
The Moose Jaw Miller Express, meanwhile, were a hit on the field and at the gate. The East Division champs surpassed the 10,000 attendance level, packing Ross Wells Park with an average of 384 fans per game – both the cumulative and per date figures were club highs.
The popularity of the WCBL was even more pronounced in the playoffs, where 32,860 fans turned out for 16 postseason games. That resulted in attendance of more than 2,000 spectators per game.
Once again, the Okotoks Dawgs set the standard. On their way to a sixth WCBL championship title, the Dawgs packed 18,975 fans into Seaman Stadium over four games. The club improved on their regular-season crowds with an average of 4,744 baseball watchers coming out to see the Dawgs compete each home game.
Other postseason teams were in demand across Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well. In Sylvan Lake, 3,675 fans came out to watch the Gulls two home games (1,838 per contest), while 2,912 showed up at Athletic Park for a pair of Mavs matchups (1,456 average).
In Moose Jaw, 2,895 boosters came out to cheer on the Miller Express during their four playoff dates, driving their average attendance to 724 people.
Teams that hosted just one postseason game also had strong attendance, including the Fort McMurray Giants (2,371 fans), Regina Red Sox (1,250), Brooks Bombers (402), and Swift Current 57’s (380).