Bringing in new fans

Members of the Thunder Bay Border Cats take a break from pre-game warmups to pose for a picture with young Border Cats fan Jack Stewart.

Grand Slam Sports and Entertainment faced their share of challenges in their rookie year at the helm of the Thunder Bay Border Cats. However, the local ownership assures they’re in this venture for the long run.

The Border Cats are down to their last eight home games in the Northwoods League campaign. With another tough baseball season on the field, the organization wants to build on what they’ve done in hopes of boosting attendance that’s been inconsistent at best.

“We signed up for the long haul,” said Border Cats vice-president Bryan Graham. “There’s no time limit on it. We obviously made a commitment here and it’s great the 21 individuals in town stepped up to form the new ownership group.”

Thunder Bay is averaging 794 fans per game at Port Arthur Stadium which is last in the 22-team NWL. The lead-in to the Canada Day weekend has given way to a stronger July at the gates. Eight of the last 10 home games have been over their average, including crowds of over 1,000 three times. The Cats have yet to surpass their season-high mark — 1,217 on opening day back on May 28.

Graham points to the often-talked about reasons why the Cats can’t draw well consistently. Reasons vary from poor weather in the spring to other non-local sports events grabbing fans’ attention and fans being out of town during the summer months for travel or camp.

What doesn’t help matters is Thunder Bay’s struggles between the lines. The Border Cats fell to 16-35 overall — also last in the NWL — after a 9-3 loss to the Eau Claire Express on Sunday. It’s been 11 years since Thunder Bay last made the playoffs.

See the full story in the print and digital editions of The Chronicle-Journal

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