Feature dates include June 7 Home Opener, Father’s Day, Canada Day, fireworks games, and WCL changes playoff format, divisional alignment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 27, 2015
VICTORIA, B.C. – The 2016 West Coast League schedule is now out, and fans of the Victoria HarbourCats will be excited about the team’s slate of home schedule of games at Royal Athletic Park.
In addition to tentatively-planned non-league games both at RAP and in Nanaimo, the HarbourCats will play 27 regular season games at the team’s outstanding facility on the corner of Caledonia and Vancouver. Last year, the HarbourCats led the WCL in attendance with an average of 1,910 fans per game, and were the top-attended summer sports franchise in Victoria with more than 55,000 people coming through the gates.
The HOME OPENER on June 7 will see a return of the “Drive for 5000” promotion – last year’s home opener saw a WCL-record crowd of 4,627, and fans will be urged to dress up and be part of the BLUE WAVE. The HarbourCats are working on an international-level game for a date in July as well.
With the release of this schedule, single-game tickets are available through the team’s office as of Thursday, and will be available on-line shortly through our Ticket Rocket partnership.
“We are excited to build off the buzz of last season, which started with local ownership taking control of the team and working closely with youth baseball, local business partners, and our great fans,” said Jim Swanson, General Manager and Vice-President of the HarbourCats. “Our play in the second half ignited the market. This is a schedule that allows a lot of great ideas to take shape as we plan the promotions and special events that set baseball apart from other sports entertainment. The schedule is nicely balanced in that we don’t see a team more than once this year, so there’s great variety in the West Coast League. The only WCL team that does not come to Victoria this year is Corvallis, and the only city we don’t visit is Yakima.”
The HarbourCats are coming off a 29-24 season, their third in the WCL, that marked the best record in franchise history, accomplished under first-year Head Coach Graig Merritt, who is back in 2016. Swanson, Merritt and the coaching staff have already recruited more than 35 players and are in the process of getting paperwork completed.
The HarbourCats open in Walla Walla this season, a series slated for June 3-4-5, and then head home to face the Wenatchee AppleSox, one of the flagship collegiate summer league franchises.
Among the highlights of the 2016 home schedule:
OPENING NIGHT – Tuesday, June 7, with the famed Wenatchee AppleSox
FATHER’S DAY – Sunday, June 19, a day game against the Cowlitz Black Bears
FIREWORKS FOR CANADA DAY – Thursday, June 30, starting an all-Canadian matchup with Kelowna
CANADA DAY GAME – Friday, July 1, a day game to celebrate our nation’s birthday
YEAR END FIREWORKS – Saturday, August 6
FAN APPRECIATION – Sunday, August 7, a day game for the regular season finale
Six day games… Home game breakdown by days – Monday (1); Tuesday (3); Wednesday (4); Thursday (5); Friday (5); Saturday (5); Sunday (4).
Teams visiting Victoria in 2016 – Wenatchee, Klamath Falls, Kelowna, Cowlitz, Kitsap, Walla Walla, Yakima Valley, Bellingham, and the defending WCL-champion Bend Elks.
HarbourCats travel to – Walla Walla, Kelowna, Wenatchee, Cowlitz, Bellingham, Klamath Falls, Bend, Kitsap and Corvallis.
There have been changes with the West Coast League. The Klamath Falls Gems are no longer on the WCL schedule and have been replaced by the to-be-named Gresham, Oregon entry (located close to Portland), which will play out of the Mount Hood College facility. The former Medford franchise is no longer in the WCL.
“The league meetings have shown the WCL, which has a great history over 12 years, is developing even stronger roots and getting stronger in the areas of leadership and communication, which is the foundation for success,” said Swanson, who was named to the WCL’s expansion committee, which will look at sites on both sides of the border. “This league has some very strong operators, and it’s a pleasure to work closely with them.”
NEW DIVISIONS, PLAYOFF STRUCTURE — The divisions have been realigned, and a first-half/second-half playoff format is in place for the first time in league history. Divisional leaders after 27 games played will automatically qualify for post-season, meeting the division’s second-half winners in a best-of-three series. Should one team win both halves, the team with the next best overall record will advance.
North Division – Victoria HarbourCats, Kelowna Falcons, Wenatchee AppleSox, Walla Walla Sweets, Bellingham Bells
South Division – Yakima Valley Pippins, Kitsap BlueJackets, Cowlitz Black Bears, Corvallis Knights, Bend Elks, and Gresham (team to be named)
The2016 season marks the first time the HarbourCats, now in their fourth season, will not face their Canadian cousins, the Kelowna Falcons, to open the season, but the good news is that the schedule rotation has the HarbourCats playing Kelowna in two series in 2016, once in each city. The teams play for the Accent Inns Cup, a trophy rewarding the winner of the regular season series – last year, Kelowna won two of three games in Victoria on opening weekend, then went on to win their division and reach the WCL championship series.
“We will schedule at least one pre-season game, possibly two, and are looking to complete details on a neutral site game that takes our brand outside of Victoria, as we’ve done successfully the last two years,” said Swanson. “We also hope to again welcome the local Premier League teams, the Mariners and Eagles, to play a regular season game at our home park – it’s become a real highlight of the summer for baseball, to have that special event.”
2016 HARBOURCATS SCHEDULE
***All single game tickets available as of Thursday, in office (101-1814 Vancouver Street) or on-line at www.harbourcats.com
(Home games at Royal Athletic Park, 6:35pm start unless otherwise noted)
PRE-SEASON – Tuesday, May 31, vs. TBA, tentative
EXHIBITION – Wednesday, June 1, vs. TBA, tentative
PBL REGULAR SEASON – Thursday, June 2, Victoria Mariners vs. Victoria Eagles, PBL
Friday, June 3, at Walla Walla Sweets (first regular season game)
Saturday, June 4, at Walla Walla Sweets
Sunday, June 5, at Walla Walla Sweets
Home Game 1 (Home opener) — Tuesday, June 7, vs Wenatchee AppleSox
Home Game 2 — Wednesday, June 8, vs. Wenatchee AppleSox
Home Game 3 — Thursday, June 9, vs. Wenatchee AppleSox
Friday, June 10, at Kelowna Falcons
Saturday, June 11, at Kelowna Falcons
Sunday, June 12, at Kelowna Falcons
Home Game 4 — Tuesday, June 14, vs. Gresham, Ore.
Home Game 5 — Wednesday, June 15, vs. Gresham, Ore.
Home Game 6 — Thursday, June 16, vs Gresham, Ore.
Home Game 7 — Friday, June 17, vs. Cowlitz Black Bears
Home Game 8 — Saturday, June 18, vs. Cowlitz Black Bears
Home Game 9 — Sunday, June 19, vs. Cowlitz Black Bears (1pm, FATHER’S DAY)
Non-league game – Wednesday, June 22, at RAP, opponent TBA
Home Game 10 — Friday, June 24, vs. Kitsap BlueJackets
Home Game 11 — Saturday, June 25, vs. Kitsap BlueJackets
Home Game 12 — Sunday, June 26, vs. Kitsap BlueJackets (1pm)
Monday, June 27, at Wenatchee AppleSox
Tuesday, June 28, at Wenatchee AppleSox
Wednesday, June 29, at Wenatchee AppleSox
Home Game 13 — Thursday, June 30, vs. Kelowna Falcons (FIREWORKS GAME)
Home Game 14 — Friday, July 1, vs. Kelowna Falcons (1pm, CANADA DAY)
Home Game 15 — Saturday, July 2, vs. Kelowna Falcons
Sunday, July 3 – Neutral site game, TBA, 3pm
Tuesday, July 5 – Potential international game, TBA, tentative
Wednesday, July 6, at Cowlitz Black Bears
Thursday, July 7, at Cowlitz Black Bears
Friday, July 8, at Cowlitz Black Bears
Home Game 16 — Saturday, July 9, vs. Bend Elks
Home Game 17 — Sunday, July 10, vs. Bend Elks (1pm)
Home Game 18 — Monday, July 11, vs. Bend Elks
Tuesday, July 12, at Gresham, Ore.
Wednesday, July 13, at Gresham, Ore.
Thursday, July 14, at Gresham, Ore.
Friday, July 15, at Bend Elks
Saturday, July 16, at Bend Elks
Sunday, July 17, at Bend Elks
Monday-Tuesday — all-star game/break, at Cowlitz
Home Game 19 — Wednesday, July 20, vs. Bellingham Bells
Home Game 20 — Thursday, July 21, vs. Bellingham Bells
Home Game 21 — Friday, July 22, vs. Bellingham Bells
Saturday, July 23, at Corvallis Knights
Sunday, July 24, at Corvallis Knights
Monday, July 25, at Corvallis Knights
Home Game 22 — Tuesday, July 26, vs. Walla Walla Sweets
Home Game 23 — Wednesday, July 27, vs. Walla Walla Sweets
Home Game 24 — Thursday, July 28, vs. Walla Walla Sweets (1pm)
Friday, July 29, at Bellingham Bells
Saturday, July 30, at Bellingham Bells
Sunday, July 31, at Bellingham Bells
Monday, August 1, at Kitsap BlueJackets
Tuesday, August 2, at Kitsap BlueJackets
Wednesday, August 3, at Kitsap BlueJackets
Home Game 25 — Friday, August 5, vs. Yakima Valley Pippins
Home Game 26 — Saturday, August 6, vs. Yakima Valley Pippins (FIREWORKS GAME)
Home Game 27 — Sunday, August 7, vs. Yakima Valley Pippins (1pm)
Playoffs would start on Tuesday, August 9, TBD