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"The Fish Bowl"

Photo of left field fence and beyond
The Red River runs "just beyond" center field

Working to be "The Best"

CanWest was a "fine diamond in the rough" throughout the 2001 season. The pressure of getting everything in order for the season and the Pan Am Games succeeded (barely). Opening Day still had welders securing the railings to the skysuites.

Photo of dedication plaque
Original 1999 Dedication

The inaugural season was eventful for breaking windows too. Apparently someone ordered the "wrong type" of glass for all the windows facing the field. This lead the to rather dangerous showers of broken glass in the skysuites and press box. These were replaced so foul balls no longer strike fear in the fans in the grandstand.

CanWest clearly has the best location in the entire Northern League. The view from the main stands has the Red River, St. Boniface, and the east part of the city in the background. From the "cheap seats" the view includes the downtown skyline and the Forks in the distance. My first visit to this park allowed me to park the car for the entire series and walk to everything. There is NO other ballpark in this league to compare with this.

Photo of old fould ball zone
Old Pioneer Boulevard: "Foul Ball Zone" (1999)

Though it was an improved version of Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, there are some distinct differences and two major "upgrades" make it more distinctive. One is that seating is mainly on the third base (home dugout) side. Until the city consents to redirecting Pioneer Blvd. running just behind the first base grandstand (and there's more construction) there are few cheap seats for visitors (though there is SRO).

Photo of netting for foul balls
Nets added in 2000

The picture on the left (taken in 1999) shows how close the bleachers and foul pole were to the sidewalk and street (Pioneer Blvd.). For 2000, (photo on right) season poles and netting were erected to protect the passing traffic on street (not to mention those parking across the street). This greatly reduced the number of baseballs hitting moving and/or parked cars, pedestrians, and anything else going by on Pioneer Blvd. The set of bleachers in 1999 picture was temporary (for the Pan Am Games) and replaced with a smaller version.

Finally all of this changed when Pioneer and Water Boulevards were rerouted when the old Provencher Bridge was replaced in 2002. This finally allowed the stadium to grow "more evenly" on the first base side.

Photo of balls along new street
New Street Appearance (2003)
Photo of patio deck and Hu's on First
Grass Berm, Patio Deck, Hu's on First Restaurant (2003)

The 2003 stadium extension, after Pioneer Blvd was rerouted, eliminated all of these problems and added more grandstand sections, skyboxes, food stands, a grass berm, a patio deck and a new restaurant. Parking, for the restaurant was added beyond the field and the appearance from the street made much more attractive --as well as keeping cars much further from the much rarer chance of foul balls.

Just part of the effort to make sure CanWest has all the features found at any of the other ballparks in the league.

About the Trains...

Photo of smoking area and train trestle
Behind the "smokers lounge" runs the CN railroad over the Red River (1999)
NOTE: This area is different today after the addition
of more skyboxes on the 3rd base line.

One characteristic that you soon notice about this park are the trains. Like the Midway" and "the Wade" (in St. Paul & Duluth), trains make their presence felt at the new Fish Bowl. The distance between the park and the trestle is not far and surprisingly almost exactly at concourse level. Smokers in the smoking area (behind Section A) can watch the game or the passenger and freight roll across the large bridge over the river.

Most of the trains pass by with little problem. They are near downtown and cannot barrel loudly past since they are making a turn. But that turn can lead to a great deal of squeaking as the steel wheels twist along the curve. With the added skyboxes (in 2000) there is a good "sound barrier" between the field and the rails. You can hear the trains while watching a game, but it blends into background general sounds of downtown.

During my first visit there was also a nasty surprise as a huge blue cloud of diesel smoke poured into the stadium. It was choking and reduced visibility like fog but eventually cleared up with no interruption to play (though the entire crowd wondered what happened). Be assured this is rare.