Canadian Baseball League (CBL) is a professional baseball organization based in Canada . A total of 12 teams now play in the Atlantic League (AL) and Pacific League (PL), with 6 teams in each league.
Teams play 62 games each season and six teams in each league advance to a three-round postseason tournament that culminates in the Canadian Baseball Championship, a best-of-seven championship series between the two league champions.
The original CBL was the brainchild of Tony Riviera, a former major league scout, and the face of the league. It was backed by former Microsoft product developer Charlton Lui, and later by former Yahoo! president, and part owner of the San Francisco Giants, Jeff Mallett. Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins was brought in to act as the league's Commissioner.
Riviera's vision had big goals, and he followed suit by making big promises. Riviera stated that the CBL would be "AAA quality". He was rumored to have approached the Winnipeg Goldeyes about switching leagues and even nominated Pete Rose for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
The big plans initially appeared to be possible. The league announced a national television deal with sports channel The Score, while a crowd of 5,100 took in the league's inaugural game in London, Ontario.
However, despite early promises that the league could, and would, average over 2,000 fans per game, it was clear that the CBL was not remotely close to projections. Only two markets averaged over 1,000 fans per game: Victoria at 1,700 and Calgary at 1,000. Four teams averaged fewer than 300 per game: Kelowna (271), Saskatoon (256), Welland (181) and Trois-Rivières (163). The national TV deal was canceled after only six weeks after the CBL was unable to find enough sponsors to cover the production costs.
The Montreal franchise never played a game in Montreal due to a lack of a playing field. Their home games were played at Stade Amedee Roy in Sherbrooke.
The CBL's swan song was the All-star game, held at Calgary. Unwilling to absorb any more losses, Mallett pulled the plug on the entire operation, suspending operations following the game. A crowd of over 5,700 watched the final game in CBL history end in a tie. Following the game, a home run derby was held that produced a combined total of zero home runs. Despite losing as much as $4 million on the CBL, Mallett initially promised to bring the league back in 2004. However, the remaining assets of the league were quietly auctioned off on December 1, 2003 in Vancouver.
In 2010 Western Baseball League Executive Robert Davis started exploring the possibility of re-starting the League. He began searching for potential franchise owners and opened discussions with Canadian sports broadcasters TSN and Sportsnet. Davis target was to have 12 clubs, a western and eastern league with 6 teams apiece.
By late 2012, Davis had commitments from 10 potential ownership groups if the league could secure a TV rights deal.
In March of 2013, TSN agreed to a 1-year $5 million TV rights deal with an option for 2015. Davis officially re-started the CBL and by the end of the summer was able to secure the final two franchise commitments. The CBL would start play in May of 2014 with a 62 game schedule. A draft of unsigned players, MLB free agents, and International players took place on January 20th, 2014 to fill the rosters of all 12 clubs. An initial $2.5 million salary cap was put into place.
After the inaugural 2014 season which the league averaged a yearly attendance of 126,513 and produced relatively good television ratings, BCE made a 25% indirect equity stake in the league. BCE, the parent company of the TV rights holder TSN, had become a partial owner of the league. BCE said it was a strategic investment in which they would help foster the growth and development of the CBL and in turn create a more viable broadcast property for TSN. Bell, through TSN exercised their $5 million TV rights deal for the 2015 season but agreed to increase the broadcast feed to $15 million for 2016.
List of teamsEdit
|Hamilton Steelers||Hamilton, Ontario||Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium (3,100)||Ian Scanturro (2017)||Jason Beck (2016)|
|London Lions||London, Ontario||Labbat Park (5,200)||Dan Cantwell (2014)||Jim Ellis (2016)|
|Ottawa Nationals||Ottawa, Ontario||Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park (10,322)||Kyle Wood (2017)||Josh Kozel (2015)|
|Québec City Liberté||Québec City, Quebec||Stade Canac (4,800)||Eric Morse (2017)||Gordon Hickey (2015)|
|St. John's Vikings||St. John's, Newfoundland||St. Patrick's Park (5,200)||Jay Gittemeier (2016)||Nick Gray (2017)|
|Trois-Rivières Saints||Trois-Rivières, Quebec||Stade Fernand-Bédard (4,500)||Dan Crewe (2015)||Kevin Baeumond (2015)|
|Calgary Cowboys||Calgary, Alberta||Foothills Stadium (6,000)||Matt Stolp (2015)||Justin Wagner (2017)|
|Edmonton Trappers||Edmonton, Alberta||RE/MAX Field (9,200)||Dave Guerin (2017)||Howard Harper (2016)|
|Saskatoon Stallions||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan||Cairns Field (5,000)||Matt Dixon (2016)||Keagan Stannard (2014)|
|Vancouver Aces||Vancouver, BC||Scotiabank Field (6,500)||Dan Ha (2015)||John Hurley (2016)|
|Victoria Chargers||Victoria, BC||Royal Athletic Park (5,000)||Brian Crichton (2016)||Ryan Elia (2016)|
|Winnipeg Buffaloes||Winnipeg, Manitoba||Shaw Park (7,461)||Bobby Ross (2016)||Zeferino Hespanha (2017)|
TSN broadcasts games on CBL Game of the Week nationally across Canada and CBL Tonight regionally throughout the entire season (including the post-season). TSN holds exclusive television broadcast rights through the 2017 season and their parent company BCE is a minority stakeholder in the league.
Radio and InternetEdit
TSN Radio holds national broadcast rights. Most teams have agreements with regional stations to cover their local fan bases. CBL games are also broadcast live on the internet. All television and radio broadcasts of games are available via subscription to CBL.tv at the Canadian Baseball League's website.