Professional Sports Facilities and Developing Urban Communities: Vancouver's Recreation Park, 1905-1912

By Mason, Daniel | Urban History Review, October 1997 | Go to article overview

Professional Sports Facilities and Developing Urban Communities: Vancouver's Recreation Park, 1905-1912


Mason, Daniel, Urban History Review


Abstract:

During the final decades of the nineteenth century, the city of Vancouver, British Columbia was a rapidly developing community that would become the province's dominant urban centre. This growth and prosperity would continue through the first ten years of the twentieth century, as self-made entrepreneurs would shape a city that would quadruple in size to become Canada's fourth largest metropolis. With this growth came a desire for leisure pursuits found in other established urban areas throughout North America. Thus, several local businessmen formed the Recreation Park Company Limited in 1905, which would build an athletic facility of the same name, and introduce Vancouver's first professional baseball team. Although the team would struggle through the early years of its existence, a young baseball magnate, Robert "Bob" Brown, would later purchase the team and establish a strong baseball tradition in the city. Recreation Park would also host professional lacrosse, and other prominent sporting and social events, making it a focal point for the leisure activities of Vancouver's citizens. Like Vancouver itself, the promise shown by Recreation Park would disappear. As the decade ended, new economic conditions dictated the Park's closure. Despite its brief existence, Recreation Park would have a profound effect on Vancouver's sporting community as it ushered in a new era of commercialised sport.

Resume:

Le rapide developpement economique que connut Vancouver durant les dernieres decennies du dix-neuvieme siecle fit de cette ville le principal centre urbain de la province. Alimentees par de dynamiques entrepreneurs, la croissance et la prosperite qui caracterisaient alors l'agglomeration se poursuivirent pendant les dix premieres annees du vingtieme siecle. Sous l'impulsion de ces hommes d'affaires, la ville quadrupla en taille et devint la quatrieme plus grande ville du Canada. Avec la croissance se developpa le gout des loisirs caracteristique des autres grands centres urbains d'Amerique du Nord. Un groupe d'hommes d'affaires locaux mit donc sur pied en 1905 la Recreation Park Company Limited. Cet organisme fit construire un centre sportif portant son nom et fut l'instigateur de la creation de la premiere equipe de baseball professionnel de Vancouver. L'equipe, qui dut lutter pour sa survie pendant ses premieres annees d'existence, fut par la suite achetee par un jeune magnat du baseball, Robert <> Brown, qui implanta solidement ce sport dans la ville. Le Recreation Park allait devenir le site de matchs de crosse professionnels et d'autres importants evenements sportifs et sociaux. Il devint le pivot des activites recreatives des Vancouverois. Comme la ville toutefois, le parc ne tint pas ses promesses. A la fin de la decennie, les nouvelles conditions economiques en decreterent la fermeture. En depit de sa breve existence, le Recreation Park marqua profondement la communaute sportive de Vancouver en ce debut de l'ere du sport commercialise.

Introduction

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the city of Vancouver, located on Canada's West Coast, underwent significant growth and change as it emerged as British Columbia's dominant urban centre. Its population nearly quadrupled from 1900 to 1910, as the city provided promise for many established and developing industries. (1) Sporting pursuits, a staple in larger urban centres of this period, also began to flourish, (2) and athletic clubs, teams and leagues emerged, starting with the formation of the Brockton Point Athletic Association by local businessmen in the 1880s. (3) The Association and other sporting enthusiasts helped facilitate the migration of already-established sport and leisure pursuits to the Vancouver area. (4) It was the influence of the young male business elites of the city (5) that allowed sport to gain a quick hold on the leisure pursuits of Vancouver's population, as those who did not participate in games would soon watch matches played in popular team sports such as baseball and lacrosse, organised by local entrepreneurs. …

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