Dawgs Welcome 500,000th Fan to Seaman Stadium

Okotoks Dawgs Logo on BallPRESS RELEASE – Canada’s #1 summer collegiate club, the Okotoks Dawgs welcomed their 500,000th fan to beautiful Seaman Stadium on Canada Day, July 1st.

The phenomenal success story that is the Dawgs dates back to 2007 when the club relocated from Calgary to Okotoks, a thriving community nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just 20 miles south of Calgary. Relying almost exclusively on private donations, the Dawgs built a $16 Million, state of the art, facility in beautiful Seaman Stadium.

Wendy Lawnsdale, fan 500,000, with Laure Hartwell, fan 400,000 and Peter Ricchichi, fan 300,000.

Wendy Lawnsdale, fan 500,000, with Laure Hartwell, fan 400,000 and Peter Ricchichi, fan 300,000.

Since 2007, again with the help of its supporters, the Dawgs have added additional facilities creating an MLB spring training like complex, including Tourmaline Field, (a 2nd stadium serving as the home park of the the Dawgs Youth Program), the Duvernay Fieldhouse, (a year round, full infield sized indoor training center) along with Conrad and Riverside Youth Fields.

From the first ever Opening Night on June 8, 2007, the Dawgs have attracted fans in astounding numbers. This past season the club is averaging in excess of 3,100 fans per game and is on pace to shatter all previous season attendance records. In fact, on Canada Day 2015, the Dawgs drew their largest crowd ever, packing both berms, filling temporary bleacher seating and all in all welcoming 5,028 fans into Seaman Stadium.

As part of the Canada Day festivities, which included pregame musical entertainment, all sorts of fun activities for Dawgs fans of all ages, and a wild post game fireworks display, the club honored long time season ticket holder, Wendy Lawnsdale, who was the 500,000th fans to enter through the gates at Seaman Stadium. An on field ceremony celebrated each of the previous milestones with the 100,000th fan, the 200,000th fan, the 300,000th fan and the 400,000th fan all being introduced to the sellout crowd before welcoming Ms.Lawnsdale as the latest member of that exclusive club. Ms. Lawnsdale was presented with a commemorative home plate as well as a Dawgs jersey sporting the number, what else, 500,000! (see attached photo with Wendy Lawnsdale, fan 500,000, surrounded by Laure Hartwell, fan 400,000 and Peter Ricchichi, fan 300,000.)

Okotoks Dawgs Canada Day Sellout Crowd

The day’s events represented another remarkable demonstration of community support for the Dawgs and served to showcase the phenomenal impact the Dawgs and Seaman Stadium have had in Okotoks and the greater Calgary area. Among the celebrants were Member of Parliament, John Barlow, who threw out the 1st pitch, Don Seaman, principal donor to the stadium that bears his family name, John Ircandia, founding and managing director of the Dawgs and volunteer project manager of all facilities within the Seaman Stadium Complex, Hans Hoffman of Hoffman Architects of Park City, Utah, who designed the facilities and is currently designing an expansion, and Michael Rose, CEO of Tourmaline Oil Corp., principal donor behind Tourmaline Field, a $3 million facility that serves as the Dawgs 2nd stadium and home to its highly successful, youth program.

And it has not just been about the baseball….Dawgs have partnered with literally 1000s of local charities and community groups to raise funds in support of a number of worthy causes. The highlights include over $200,000 now raised for Breast Cancer research, $100,000 raised in partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays Care Foundation, $65,000 raised for local flood relief, together with thousands more raised in support of Autism, Prostate Cancer and Cystic Fibrosis.

And by the way, a baseball game broke out and the Dawgs rewarded the hometown fans with their 10th win over the past 12 games, a 7-1 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Miller Express.

9 Comments

Filed under Rankings & Attendance

9 responses to “Dawgs Welcome 500,000th Fan to Seaman Stadium

  1. AMar

    John, I understand the great desire to cultivate a world class developmental model from youth all the way up to the collegiate level but may i ask why you are so adverse to pro baseball for the Dawgs? And why there is not even the slightest possibility of a Pro Dawgs branch of the organization in the future? (the geographical issues aside of course). I am just curious is all…

    • John Ircandia

      A number of reasons. I will refer to a few. First, our location realistically relegates us to independent rather affiliated, pro baseball. My personal experience with Indy baseball franchises is not good (at least 3 iterations, including an entire league, went bankrupt after extremely short lifespans in Calgary). The Indy executives I had the “pleasure” of dealing with were liars and/con artists. They left a black eye in our community for the entire sport which we have strived to overcome. My observation beyond my personal experience is that the failures greatly outnumber the successes. That reality however doesn’t prevent the “grandiose promises” and blatant misrepresentations. Second, the difference in the quality of the baseball is not evident to the average fan in our market. Third, the summer collegiate model with players engaged in both college and athletics, resonates with our fans and our business supporters. Forth, even if there was an interest, which there is not, the market would not sustain teams at both levels. Fifth, from a philosophical standpoint, the Dawgs believe that if by the time you complete college, you do not have the opportunity to play affiliated professional baseball, you should get on with your life and start making a positive contribution to your community.

      • eastfirst107

        I tell ya, that Chris Colabello (currently hitting .325 for Toronto) definitely should have gotten on with his life and started to make a positive contribution to his community after he wasn’t drafted, rather than go the Can-Am League, put up numbers, and eventually get noticed.

        Was more or less with you until your fifth point, at which point you became a sanctimonious prig. Just run your ballclub, man. You have enough (very valid) reasons why indy ball wouldn’t be a good fit in Calgary without having to spout obnoxious “philosophies” on what guys should or shouldn’t do after they finish playing college ball.

  2. John Ircandia

    Thanks for the follow up Allan. Honestly, I was just trying to provide some “insider” substance to your analysis which, as usual, was bang on. It is frustrating that some people seem determined to denigrate the success of others, even a strictly non profit organization like the Dawgs. Frankly, quite to the contrary of that individual’s remark, we are extremely humbled by the support of our fans. That is why we celebrate with them milestones like the 500,000th fan. And given our a non profit status, any and all revenues associated with our “success” are 100% dedicated back to the facilities and the programming. So no one benefits but the community and the youth programming, which is how we have always wanted it to be.

  3. John Ircandia

    Alan, you hit it on the head. The Dawgs have no (as in NO) interest in independent professional baseball. Our objective is to continue to develop youth players so as to provide collegiate and in some cases, affiliated, professional opportunities. Hence the focus on our youth academy (now consisting of 130 high performance players, aged 12-18). The summer collegiate Dawgs are part of that development model by illustrating the next level and by giving our top graduating, youth dawgs a summer place to play. Our fans enjoy the divisional rivalries in the WMBL that can be traced to longtime hockey rivalries amoung the cities. So from our fans perspective (if not mine as owner) the Dawgs versus Medicine Hat or Lethbridege is more attractive than the Dawgs versus , say Wenatchee. The attendance numbers which are nothing short of phenomenal, demonstrate the fans commitment. In fact, we are embarking on a program of upgrades that will make our gem of a stadium even more fan friendly and increase capacity. But in the end, the Dawgs will always stay true to our vision and although in the right circumstances that could involve the WCL, it will NEVER involve independent professional baseball; NEVER.

    • Dean

      I can’t stand people who toot their own horn, show some humility.

      • ballparkbiz

        Dean,

        I’m sorry, are statements like, “130 high performance players,” “The attendance numbers which are nothing short of phenomenal,” “embarking on a program of upgrades,” and “gem of a stadium” somehow out of line? I don’t get it. I don’t see the self promotion here. These are facts to be proud of and share. These type of statements are made in team press releases every day.

        Alan

  4. Mark

    Have the Dawgs outgrown the WMBL?

    • ballparkbiz

      Mark,

      The Dawgs have a good thing going in the Western Major Baseball League. Nearby WMBL opponents are in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, former Pioneer League markets with professional ballparks (Medicine Hat — Athletic Park: http://www.charliesballparks.com/st/ph/AB-MedicineHat-Athletic-1.jpg and Lethbridge — Spitz Stadium: http://www.ndgbaseball.org/provincials_2012/junior_lynx/spiz_stadium_stands_2.jpg), and the league continues to evolve for the better. The WMBL still has work to do though.

      Also, there is really know other option for them. I believe the Dawgs like the level of play and cultivating young collegiate players (they are a non-profit, after all), so there really isn’t a desire to go pro. Even if they did, their options are limited. I think there is disdain for independent professional ball because of what Calgary did to them, so that would be out, even if there was a league. And, as nice as Seaman Stadium is, the affiliated Northwest League would demand upgrades. The only fit would be the Pioneer League, and the Dawgs would have to spend several million to buy and relocate the Helena Brewers. I don’t see that happening.

      The summer collegiate West Coast League would be an upgrade, but the footprint is too far away (at least according to some WCL team owners), unless you compare the travel to the Northwoods League footprint.

      Alan

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