It has been a while but in this episode of Ballparks around the World we pay attention to the home of the Québec Capitales (independent CanAm League), Stade Municipal in Québec, North America’s only walled city.
In 1937, Canada suffered from the great depression, just as most other countries of the world. Prime Minister of Québec, Maurice Duplessis decided to do as Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he decided to order the construction of two ballparks. One in Trois-Rivières and one in Québec City. Both ballparks would look similar.
The groundbreaking ceremony was on April 1st, 1938 and the ballpark was opened on May 14, 1939, as Stade Municipal. Its first tenant was the Québec Athletics of the Québec Provincial League/Canadian American League. Baseball was played until 1943 when baseball activities were ceased due to WWII.
During a stretch of seven years (1949-1955) the Québec Braves served as a farm team of the Boston/Milwaukee Braves. During that time span, the Québec Braves won six championships. But during the 1949 and 1950 season, the club was a co-op team. Only from 1951, the club signed a PDC with the Boston Braves. In 1953, the Milwaukee Braves visited the city of Québec as parent club of the Québec Braves. and played an exhibition game vs their local farm team. Future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn took the mound for Milwaukee. Two years later, Milwaukee would return for another exhibition game, this time with Hank Aaron in their ranks.
Until 1978, affiliated baseball was a fixture in Québec. But after the 1977 season, the Montreal Expos decided to move their AA team, the Québec Metros to Memphis where the team adopted the Memphis Chicks moniker. From that moment on, the stadium was only used for junior baseball and became heavily damaged. In the 1990s, the Stade Municipal was in such bad shape the city council considered demolishing it, however, a group of citizens formed the Comité de Relance in a desperate effort to save the facility. Only minor repair work to some parts of the aging stadium would be done by that committee. Even though the demolition of the building was avoided, a private investor was desperately needed in order to justify some investments by the city.
In 1998, Jean-François Côté who had been promoting the return of professional baseball in Quebec City for a few years managed to invite Miles Wolff, the editor of Baseball America, to visit the stadium. Due to the very bad condition of the structure, Wolff did not see any potential for any future professional baseball at this location.
Despite the disappointing visit the city of Québec spent the next 6 months renovating the old facility after which Wolff was invited once again. This time his reaction after that second visit was very favorable.
On June 4, 1999, the Québec Capitales, a new minor professional baseball team, began to play at the stadium and since then, the city has continued to invest important amounts of money to modernize the stadium while keeping its historic side.
Stade Canac is beautifully located within the boundaries of Parc Victoria, a municipal park and recreation area located between the St-Roch district of Quebec City and the south shore of the Saint-Charles River.
One of the four retired numbers in Canac Stadium is that of Gary Carter, who called this stadium home when he played for the Québec Carnavales, back then a farm team of the Montréal Expos.
Currently, a group named Complexe de Baseball Victoria (CBV) is managing the stadium. The group took over the management from the city in 2016. An estimated 3.3 Canadian Dollars has been invested to install a synthetic field and fences which can be moved to create 2-3 smaller fields.
The deal between the city and CBV also allowed them to sell the stadium naming rights. Late 2016, CBV hammered out a deal with Groupe Laberge, owner of the hardware retail chain Canac, to rename the stadium to Stade CANAC.
After baseball season ends, an inflatable dome is placed in the ballpark so baseball can be played during winter as well, next to soccer, football, frisbee and other kinds of sport.
The only negative thing about this ballpark that may be said is the obstructed view thanks to the beams that support the roof.
Here are some impressions of this little gem (photos: courtesy of DigitalBallparks.com)