Okotoks Dawgs Baseball
The Dawgs are operated on a strictly non-profit basis. The program began in 1995 as an elite youth development program based in the City of Calgary, AB. Since its inception the Dawgs have developed numerous premier youth, collegiate and professional players. Several Dawgs' players have played for Team Alberta, Team Canada, NCAA and NAIA universities and colleges and been drafted by and signed professional baseball contracts with Major League Baseball organizations.
In 2003, the Dawgs expanded their program to include a summer collegiate club . The following year the summer collegiate Dawgs captured their first championship in the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL), Canada's premier college league, before 4000 fans at Foothills Stadium in Calgary.
In 2006, as part of the Dawgs' vision to construct a state of the art, minor league level, stadium and training facility solely dedicated to summer collegiate and youth development, the Dawgs relocated 40 kilometers south of Calgary to the Town of Okotoks. In the people of Okotoks and the communities of the Foothills, the Dawgs discovered communities dedicated to the same vision of excellence as the Dawgs program itself. Thanks to an extraordinary partnership comprised of Calgary businessmen and sports enthusiasts, Don Seaman and his brother, the late Daryl "Doc" Seaman (of Calgary Flames' ownership fame), who were the principal donors behind the project, Dawgs' management and the Town of Okotoks, the Dawgs began construction of the $15 Million Seaman Stadium and Duvernay Fieldhouse in August 2006.
Some 10 months later on June 8, 2007, a sell out crowd of 2500 fans jammed Seaman Stadium for the Dawgs' first Opening Day in Okotoks. To say that the communities from South Calgary to Okotoks and the Foothills have embraced Dawgs' Baseball at Seaman Stadium would be a gross understatement. In its inaugural year the Dawgs were the top baseball draw, professional or otherwise, in the province of Alberta averaging almost 1700 fans per game. In fact, the Dawgs capped off a storybook season on August 12, 2007 by capturing the WMBL Championship over the defending champion Swift Current Indians before 2700 appreciative fans. In total, almost 50,000 fans attended Dawgs' home games during the 2007 season.
The 2008 season was even bigger and better as the Dawgs attracted national teams from Canada, the United States and Chinese Taipei to Seaman Stadium for the International Super Series. The Corvallis Knights and Kelowa Falcons of the West Coast League, the premier summer collegiate circuit in the Western United States, also travelled to Seaman Stadium for an exhibition series against the Dawgs. The 2008 season concluded with another WMBL Championship before a packed house at Seaman Stadium as the Dawgs enjoyed "Back to Back" Championships. Ballpark Biz, an US based baseball resource for professionals, named the Dawgs among the Top 10 summer collegiate franchises in North America and the top baseball draw in Alberta with attendance in 2008 averaging over 1825 fans per game.
Both 2009 and 2010 season boasted new attendance records at Seaman Stadium and increased recognition amongst the Summer Collegiate Baseball elite. The most recent survey by Ballpark Businesshas identified the Dawgs’, with per game attendance averaging 2223 fans, as the top baseball draw in Alberta, professional or otherwise, the top summer collegiate draw in Canada and now among the top 5 summer collegiate franchises in all of North America.
The continued success of the Dawgs’ has been also been highlighted by Ballpark Business with a feature article published on their website. The story spotlights the significant milestone of the 200,000th fan passing through the gates of Seaman Stadium. In addition to this, another attendance record was broken during the 2010 season of Dawgs Baseball when Over 4,000 fans jammed Seaman Stadium to celebrate Canada’s birthday. The article can be viewed at http://ballparkbiz.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/okotoks-dawgs-200000-fans-and-beyond/
After three consecutive WMBL championships since moving to Okotoks, in 2010 the Dawgs captured the West Divison pennant, but could not make it four championships in a row, losing out in the semi-finals. The Okotoks Dawgs were also honoured to have received the Best Community Project award presented by Baseball America, at the Summer Collegiate Baseball Conference in Madison, Wisconsin on November 7, 2010.
The Dawgs received this honour in relation to the success of the "Wear Pink to the Park" event at Seaman Stadium, in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Dawgs' representatives proudly accepted this award on behalf of the Dawgs fans whose outstanding generosity has helped to raise over $80,000 for CBCF.
The 2010-11 off-season was the first for the J Dawgs Academy in the Duvernay Fieldhouse. The Duvernay Fieldhouse is a $2 million state-of-the-art training centre made possible by the generous donations of Don Seaman, Doc Seaman and Michael Rose. The baseball development work and strength training made possible by the phenomenal coaching resources and facilities offered by the Dawgs program have been extraordinary. Elite youth players from all over Canada, are joining the J Dawgs Baseball Academy. Elite youth players from Canada and as far away as Mexico and China have recognized the advantages of the deep coaching resources and state of the art facilities.
In 2011, the Dawgs averaged over 2400 fans per game, up every year since 2007, for fourth in all of North America in attendance for summer collegiate baseball. Seaman Stadium was also selected the 4th best stadium in Canada after the Rogers Center in Toronto by Major League Baseball professional scouts and was named as one of four finalists for "Canada's Favorite Ballpark" in a national contest sponsored by Baseball Canada. The Dawgs captured the West Division Pennant before falling to the Regina Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2011 WMBL Championship.
The Dawgs expanded their facilities in 2012 with the addition two new baseball diamonds adjacent to Seaman Stadium, "Tourmaline Field" and Conrad Field. Tourmaline Field is a full sized midget diamond that is a smaller replica of Seaman Stadium. The diamond has an articifical turf infield and grass outfield and is home to the Academies three Midget teams. The second diamond is Conrad Field and it is the new home of the Bantam program. The addition of Tourmaline Field and Conrad Field, both adjacent to Seaman Stadium and the Duvernay Fieldhouse, will create an atmosphere similar to MLB Spring Training Complexes and make Seaman Stadium a top draw for provincial tournaments at every level, as well as national and international showcases. Tourmaline Field bears the name of feature sponsor, Calgary energy company, Tourmaline Oil Corp. and has been made possible by the generous support of Tourmaline CEO, Michael Rose. The project also enjoyed the generous support of Calgary investment firm, Peters & Co. Limited and Dawgs' management.
In 2012, the Dawgs once again had all of the support in the world from the best fans in all of baseball. The Dawgs finished the season with over 2200 fans walking through the Seaman Stadium gates. The team once again made the playoffs but came up short in their hunt for a fifth WMBL title.
The Dawgs team was red hot in the summer of 2013 as they finished the regular season with a record of 31-13. The team beat the Lethbridge Bulls in a very exciting five game opening series and then fell short in the Western Finals. Off of the diamond the Dawgs kept shattering their own records. The team had record crowds for both Father's Day and Canada Day On Canada Day there was 4,445 fans packed into Seaman Stadium. With an average attendance of 2,349 fans per game the Dawgs finished once again as the #1 baseball draw in Alberta, the #1 summer collegiate draw in all of Canada and in the top five in all of North America.
The records kept falling in 2014 as fan support for the Dawgs soared again to an all-time high. The Dawgs smashed their previous marks for average attendance, set in 2013, by welcoming 2,827 fans per game in the 2014 regular season, and 3,064 fans per playoff game; both new franchise records. The Canada Day game set another single-game attendance record with 4,769 celebrating Canada's birthday with the Dawgs at Seaman Stadium. The Dawgs won 16 of their final 20 home games in 2014, and completed a thrilling comeback in the opening round of the playoffs, defeating the Lethbridge Bulls in five games after trailing two games to none.