Homerun History at Nat Bailey Stadium
Jun 20th, 2023
One of Vancouver’s most iconic destinations is within walking distance of our homes at Bailey — and it’s the namesake of our first Vancouver project.
Located on the edge of Queen Elizabeth Park, Nat Bailey Stadium draws thousands of baseball lovers to its field every year — and it has since 1951.
If you don’t already know, Nat Bailey was the founder of White Spot. He started the beloved drive-in chain in 1928, and while the car component is long gone, his restaurants are still popular throughout the province. But restaurants weren’t his first love. Nat Bailey was passionate about baseball, too. Before White Spot, he could be found selling peanuts at the concession stand at Athletic Park, a baseball park built in 1913 at Hemlock and 5th.
The fun at Athletic Park would come to an end in 1951, when the Granville Street Bridge needed the land for its ramp. But this is also when Nat Bailey Stadium’s history begins.
The City promised Athletic Park’s owner, Emil Sick, a land exchange so he could build a new stadium. That land was a 15-acre swamp in Riley Park, and it would be home to Capilano Stadium (later renamed). The turf from Athletic Park was transferred to the new stadium — not only for practical reasons, but perhaps for luck, too. Babe Ruth had played on those greens.
For the next few decades, baseball hit some ups and downs. Nat Bailey, along with a group of other dedicated baseball fans, revived the league when Vancouver became baseball-less in 1954. But, eventually, the league collapsed in 1969 and Capilano Stadium was largely abandoned.
Another dreamer came to the scene in 1978. Harry Ornest, partially financed by Molson Brewery, revitalized Capilano Stadium, outfitting it with the manual scoreboard and grandstand seats from recently closed Sick Stadium in Seattle. (Yes, owned by that Emil Sick of Athletic Park.) And when Nat Bailey died that year, Ornest naturally named the stadium after him.
Since then, Nat Bailey Stadium has been a consistent venue for baseball. In fact, it’s the longest serving sports venue in Vancouver that’s still used by a professional club. It’s still got that old-fashioned charm, too.
Pop in at Bud Kerr Baseball Museum inside the stadium or read this article for more details on Vancouver’s baseball history.
When you live at Bailey, you can easily make baseball part of your summer fun. Visit liveatbailey.ca for details on these homes and stop by our newly opened Presentation Centre.