Stad Stereo Plus – Trois-Rivieres Aigles
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Un joyau caché de Trois-Rivières
Spoiler Alert, hockey is and will always be the sport of choice for most Canadians and especially Quebecers. Baseball was on an upwards trajectory culminating with the Toronto Blue Jays back to back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993, but the nation always had a fondness for the Montreal Expos, who frequently built up talented rosters only to sell off expensive pieces and start another rebuild. The Expos departure for Washington, D.C. in 2004 was the final straw for many Hoser hardball fans, yet the story doesn’t end there.
Affiliated baseball in Canada also has an inconsistent past, minor league teams have set up shop in most major Canadian cities only to leave for greener pastures; this has opened an opportunity for independent leagues to step in to fill the void. The Can-Am League has recently started to plant some roots in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. The Quebec Capitales have been the cream of the crop in the upstart league winning multiple titles over the past decade. The Ottawa Champions have tried to revive baseball in the nation’s capital, home to AAA baseball for over 15 years. The least likely outpost for professional baseball though might be Trois-Rivieres Quebec, home since 2012 of the Aigles of the Can-Am League.
Join us as we venture to “La Belle Provence” and find out if baseball really died with the departure of the Expos or if teams like the Trois-Rivieres Aigles are leading a new baseball renaissance in Quebec and Canada.
Food & Beverage 3
The minor league baseball foodie renaissance has yet migrated north to Canada, all to say the offering at Stereo Plus is pretty basic. The main concessions concourse is located behind home plate almost in the bowels of the stadium, so you will have to miss some of the action to grab a quick bite. Burgers, hot dogs, a Cuban sandwich are fine, but no trip to Quebec is complete without sampling poutine. French fries, cheese curds, and hot gravy-a Quebec delicacy and almost a way of life for many.
The beer offering is from the Labatt portfolio, Budweiser, Bud Light, Corona, and Stella Artois ranging from $5.50 to $7.25.
The Can-Am league has become a pipeline for Cuban players to ply their craft outside the Caribbean, and during our visit, the Cuban National Team was in town as part of their month-long series against the Can-Am League squads. It is thus fitting then that the Aigles offer Havana Club rum products as well. A sought after rum that is not yet available in the United States.
The former Stade Fernand-Bedard is a cozy 4,500 seat venue built in 1938 and most recently renovated in 2009. The structure still maintains the basic footprint and style of the era with pillars holding up the overhang; think The Ballpark at Arlington or Fenway Park as similar architectural styles.
It is a bit of a throwback in that sense with a new paint job, nothing spectacular but a unique ballyard, and at least for this review, a nice surprise to find a bit of a hidden gem still intact from a bygone era. It did conjure up images from the 1970’s when the Cincinnati Reds AA ball affiliate (also the Aigles) called the field home. On Friday nights, the team dons throwback pullover jerseys from the era.
It was a little underwhelming by the turnout on a warm June evening, especially with the added box office of some of Cuba’s finest (many have since signed with MLB teams) the park was roughly half full, but a good crowd gathered a few hours before first pitch on the left field patio as it seemed many came straight from work. Overall those in attendance did seem more interested in a social night out more so than the game in and of itself.
In referring to the neighbourhood, Trois Rivieres–Three Rivers in English–is a mid-size town of 125,000 people with a nice consolidated bar district downtown. The stadium is located just outside of the downtown core and actually sits on the grounds of the Trois-Rivieres Grand Prix Race Track. It is highly recommend staying closer to the downtown core (there is a very affordable AirBNB walking distance from the bar district). The nightlife is surprisingly vibrant with drink specials aplenty ($5 tall pint local micro-brewery) and many different establishments in close proximity.
Trois-Rivieres is fluently bi-lingual, Anglophones need not worry, but if you do speak French or at least attempt it is usually appreciated. The recurring trend for both the stadium and the bar scene is one of pleasant surprise in what might otherwise be considered an out of the way small town.
It is tough to make a real judgment based on a half-full stadium (or perhaps that speaks for itself) the crowd does seem fairly engaged in the game, cheering at appropriate times and with some heckling, in English, French and Spanish. Again a sizable number of the small crowd do show up early to mingle and throw back a few cold ones in the left field party zone before the game; this at least indicates that there is an appetite for the social aspect of the game day presentation.
If you do find yourself in Trois Rivieres I suspect you’ve driven there, you will also likely have to drive to the game, but there is plenty of available free parking. The stadium itself is a short trip from downtown. Uber has yet made its way to Quebec and public transit is somewhat lacking. There are local taxis if driving is not an option.
Return on Investment 3
Concessions are decently priced on a selection that is basic ballpark fare. Ticket prices range from $9 to $13 for children (under 5 get in free) and for adults from $13-$21. If viewed through the lens vs other entertainment options (seeing a movie) this is a very good value, if viewed by comparison to affiliated baseball it could be perceived a little high. It falls in the middle in my opinion; it’s not going to break the bank nor is it a blow away value either.
- Being able to see high quality baseball without having to cross the border into the states.
- A surprisingly quaint ballpark and lovely downtown with night time attractions.
- Access to the players who are known to visit local restaurants after the games and at least in my experience are very open to talking to fans.
- Great hospitality from the AirBNB hosts and the locals who I had a chance to chat with.
The options of baseball in Eastern Canada are limited so anytime we can take in a different stadium within driving distance of home base is a plus; it is a surprisingly quaint stadium. It offers terrific hospitality, a vibrant neighbourhood nearby, and a chance to talk with baseball players made for an enjoyable Stadium Journey.
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Food and Drink Recommendations
439 Rue Niverville
Trois-Rivieres, QC G9A 2A3
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