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'What better place than an outdoor ballpark?': Neil Young, festivals coming to Blue Cross Park in July

Blue Cross Park, the home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes, is pictured in an undated image. Blue Cross Park, the home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes, is pictured in an undated image.
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Winnipeg’s baseball club is hoping to hit a home run this summer with a series of high-profile events.

In the past week, the Winnipeg Goldeyes announced Neil Young & Crazy Horse, along with two festivals, will take over Blue Cross Park in July.

“So we've been working for quite some time on Country Rising and Tacos and Tequila,” Regan Katz, Goldeyes vice-president and COO, told CTV News Saturday. “And then, thanks to Live Nation, Neil Young wanted to stop in Winnipeg. And what better place than an outdoor ballpark?”

Young and Crazy Horse are slated to bring their Love Earth Tour to Blue Cross Park on July 17.

“Live Nation was looking for outdoor venues, and in Winnipeg, we only have two that can handle this type of event – us and the [football] stadium,” Katz explained. “For the size of the show, the ballpark is a better fit.”

The ballpark has played host to several concerts through its 25-year history including The Tragically Hip, The Guess Who, Tom Cochrane & Red Rider and Skrillex.

In 2021, the park welcomed in Bachman-Cummings, Cochrane, Doc Walker and others for the Unite 150 concert to celebrate Manitoba’s 150th birthday.

“We’ve always planned for concerts, but did we think Neil Young specifically? No,” Katz said. “This quite honestly fell in our lap, but it’s great timing. The team is on the road and the date aligns well with the tour.”

The other two events happen just over a week later.

On July 26, the Country Rising Music Festival pulls into town. The Brothers Osborne, Dallas Smith, and The Reklaws are scheduled to headline the event.

“But even if you don’t like country music, there’s whiskey sampling and flashback cars. It’s a really, really fun time,” Katz said.

Tacos and Tequila Festival takes over the following night on July 27. It’s advertised as a throwback hip hop festival featuring Lil Jon, Chingy and other ‘90s and 2000s artists. The festival will also include food from local taco chefs, a tequila tasting lounge, lucha libre wrestling, a Chihuahua beauty pageant and a salsa and queso competition.

Katz said two other organizations in the American Association (AA), the Goldeyes’ league, have hosted Tacos and Tequila in the past.

“It’s had such great success in other ballparks and we’ve been working hard to convince them that it’s time to come in Canada,” he explained. “So that was a big breakthrough for us.”

Katz said bringing festivals to a ballpark – especially one with a team that spends weeklong stretches on the road during the AA season – just makes sense.

“Drinks that need to be cold are, and food that needs to be hot is,” Katz explained. “And we all know Winnipeg summers are our best kept secrets.”

The ball diamond originally opened in 1999 as CanWest Global Park and become Shaw Park 13 years later. It held that moniker until this off-season when the club signed a naming rights agreement with Blue Cross. Katz said other changes are in the works.

“We’re quite excited with some of the enhancements we’ve got coming for the season.”

Katz said some renovations happening at the ballpark, and he assures the Goldeyes “Love Local” mantra – a commitment to serving up local beer and food at the park, remains.

The organization introduced its Craft Beer Corner near left field ahead of the 2018 season. The bar features a rotating roster of beers from local breweries.

“It’s been a Goldeyes initiative for quite some time – to stay as close to home as we can.”

As for the team’s on-field performance, Katz said the organization is readying for its 31st season in Winnipeg.

“We’re building an exciting team and with a new manager, we’re really excited about what’s to come.”

The Winnipeg Goldeyes home opener is slated for May 21.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse tickets will be available through Ticketmaster starting March 7.

Tickets for Tacos and Tequila, as well as Country Rising, are on sale now. 

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