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Pro baseball coming to Fort McMurray

Professional baseball is coming to Fort McMurray.

As first reported on MyMcMurray last month, the independent North American League has awarded a franchise to the Wood Buffalo region.

The announcement was made at a media conference at Macdonald Island this morning.

Team owner Craig Tkachuk says until the city’s stadium is finished until 2013, they’re hoping to gather as much feedback as possible.

“What we’d like is people to email in, to say this is a good idea, give us suggestions,” said Tkachuk. “The North American League is very competitive ball, but baseball is a past-time and an experience.”

The franchise has set up a temporary website at fortmcmurrayprofessionalbaseball.com with more information.

Tkachuk purchased the rights to the inactive Victoria Seals franchise and decided to relocate it to the Fort McMurray area.

He is the former Director of Facilities and Development for the Edmonton Oilers, and was General Manager of the Edmonton Capitals baseball club of the then-Northern League, as well as its stadium, Telus Field.

Tkachuk says even though the planned baseball stadium at Macdonald Island won’t be finished until 2013, there is a possibility that the franchise could begin play in the 2012 season.

“One of the ideas we’re considering is – assuming the stadium can be built by 2013 – we’d like to have the team travel next year – having a road team,” he said.

Tkachuk was joined for the announcement by Fort McMurray minor baseball executive director and former Edmonton Capital Lou Pote (pictured), as well as Macdonald Island COO Tim Reid.

The North American League features teams in Alberta, California, Illinois, Texas, Arizona, and Hawaii. Teams play a 96-game schedule. It’s considered one of the highest-calibre independent baseball leagues, having been created through a merger of three existing leagues in 2010.