Thunder Bay’s Port Arthur Stadium officially opened on July 14th, 1951. Over the years it was used as a baseball, football, soccer and summer concert facility and its history is rich with extraordinary stories and tradition.
Today it is home to the Thunder Bay Border Cats Baseball organization of the Northwoods League. From 1993 to 1998, the stadium was also home to the Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks of the Northern League. Opening Day in 1993 was a memorable one as the standing room only crowd of 6,200 plus included fans on the field across the warning track. The grandstand seating area of 1,600 plus was retrofitted during the Whiskey Jack days and now lays claim to some of the most comfortable seating in the NWL.
Players such as Darryl Strawberry drew many curious fans when he played for the St. Paul Saints during games against the Whiskey Jacks. Strawberry launched what many fans describe as the longest home run in stadium history during the Whiskey Jacks home opener in June of 1996. Thunder Bay’s Eric Brown, who played for the Border Cats in 2010, and is now a pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, retrieved the ball while playing in a game at the former little league field over the right field fence. Brown had Strawberry autograph the ball and still holds onto it as a valuable souvenir. Despite winning an Eastern Division second-half title for their first playoff appearance in 1998, the Whiskey Jacks were sold shortly after the season and moved to Schaumburg, Illinois, ending professional baseball in the Lakehead after six years.
Since 2003, the Border Cats have called the stadium home. Over the years the organization has added a large party deck along with left field line plus upper decks in left field and over first base which allows fans a great view of the action on the field. A new home plate club has been added for the 2013 season with VIP seating right on the field. The complete stadium capacity nows stands at just over 3,000. The Border Cats have won two NWL Championships (2005 & 2008), with both title clinching victories coming at the stadium and both over the Madison Mallards.
The Cats also hosted the very memorable 2009 NWL All-Star Game that featured an appearance by the Stanley Cup. Thunder Bay’s Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins brought the NHL Championship Trophy to the park during the opening ceremonies much to the delight of the big crowd and the all-star players and coaches. Canada’s very own Ferguson Jenkins, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was also in attendance as a guest speaker for the event and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Staal.
In 2010 and 2018, the stadium hosted the very successful World Junior Baseball Championships. Port Arthur Stadium celebrated its 65th anniversary in the summer of 2016.