The Sylvan Lake Gulls are ready for their home opener on Wednesday and they’ve taken the next step in improving the experience for their fans on game days.
During media day at their stadium in Pogadl Park the team introduced their improvements including a new videoboard, scoreboard, a patio, 10 luxury suites, a new team uniform and a concessions stand.
“I think anybody that saw the games last year we served 18,000 people in 21 games,” said president and chief operating officer of the Gulls, Aqil Samuel. “They’re really going to be impressed with what they see and we really want to show it off a little bit. Last year we put it together in that COVID year which was difficult for everybody and this year this is what we wanted to show first. We did it a year late but we’re here now.”
For the home opener against the Okotoks Dawgs, Samuel explained they’re already at over capacity with 1,550 tickets sold, with the actual capacity at 1,384. They were able to do so after introducing berm tickets, which is a pair of elevated grass spaces and he expects there to be 1,600 people on Wednesday.
“Which is going to be exciting… we have Aaron Pritchett coming to do O Canada and the Star-Spangled Banner. He’s going to do a one-hour concert after the game so as soon as that news came out I think people just rushed to our ticket site. We got some pretty cool things planned for opening night so it should be a fun time,” Samuel said.
Last season due to COVID-19-related reasons, every team in the Western Canadian Baseball League fielded an all-Canadian roster. This season Samuel said they have 20 American players and 10 Canadian players on the Gulls. There is a league rule each team must have at least seven Canadian players.
“We went a little bit above that with some good local talent some guys from the immediate area including Cleary Simpson, people will remember him from last year he’s from Elnora,” he said.
“It’s going to be exciting to see the American guys, there’s a couple guys who have never been outside the United States, first time in a foreign country so they’re pretty excited to be here and it was really exciting to see them walk into the stadium for the first time and see it.”
Fan favourite Kyle Froehlich from Nipawin, Sask. has made a return to the team this year. He told the Advocate he’s pumped for the home opener.
“We’ve got a good group here it was nice to get on the road you know meet all the guys, see kind of what we got as a crew and to be able to again play in front home fans is going to be amazing,” Froehlich said.
“I’ve used this word before in an interview. I like to call it electric and that’s the atmosphere I get from when the fans are here so to have everything kind of open up, and all the people back, this summer’s going to be amazing.”
Froehlich added the fans in Sylvan Lake have been great during his time in the community referencing many times fans have come up to him in public and introduced themselves.
“Last year we actually had a business owner buy us a meal as a team, which was really cool when we were out so just things like that,” he said.
Froehlich played his college baseball in the U.S. at Colby Community College in Kansas. Many of his teammates also played south of the border, which he said has given some familiarity as they all are aware of the culture differences.
“It’s nice to have these guys come up and play with us. It definitely adds a lot of depth and talent-wise throughout the league so it’s going to be a little better baseball, which makes it more competitive, more fun, more exciting for the fans as well,” he said.
The Gulls moved to 2-2 after losing to the Okotoks Dawgs on Sunday. The home opener is set for 7 p.m. at Gulls Stadium in Sylvan Lake Wednesday.