The 2009 Baseball Canada Cup is less than three months away, and Kindersley’s ball diamonds will soon be ready to host the country’s top young players.
Upgrades to Berard Field and Flanagan Park are expected to be completed by mid-June, says host committee co-chair Jamie Flanagan.
“It’ll be three weeks from now,” Flanagan revealed recently. “June 13 is when the bleachers need to be done ... I think that’ll be the last thing, the bleachers.”
June 13 is the date scheduled for the installation of vinyl capping on the seats.
Significant work has already been done at the ball fields and more changes will be implemented over the coming weeks.
Work is underway on the bleachers, including the welding of new steps that will go between the sections.
The new electronic scoreboards are in place at both diamonds, though the kinks are still being worked out on the one at Flanagan Park. There will be room for three large sponsor ads above and below the Berard scoreboard and one on the Flanagan board.
The foul poles at both fields were installed last Thursday, and several bags of crushed clay material were ordered for the batter’s boxes and laid over the weekend. The clay will help prevent the area from being torn up during the August tournament.
“All the teams can tramp on it all summer and get it worked in,” Flanagan said.
Meanwhile, the construction of a new building for the concession booth is complete, thanks to volunteer hours put in largely by Dean Dorsett, Robert Dyck and Bernie Vold. Flanagan was grateful for the help, considering it allowed the committee to avoid potentially expensive contractors.
“It would have been double, I’m sure, what it cost us to put it up,” he said. “They were unbelievable. It took a little longer, but with it being volunteer shifts, you take them when you can.”
One of the major upgrades still to come will see all 48 light bulbs at the diamonds replaced. The bulbs have been ordered and are expected to arrive within a week. After that, Flanagan estimates it shouldn’t take more than a couple of days to install them.
“That’s one thing that Baseball Canada had a problem with, was our lighting system last year when we hosted the prospects series,” he explained. “The lights were insufficient. There were a bunch of dark spots in the outfield.”
Another important improvement will see new fences that will be three feet high at all points. That will replace the current infield fencing, which is in less than ideal shape, and much shorter outfield fencing. The committee is currently waiting on a second quote for the fencing, which will be capped with plastic and will take about two weeks to install.
“We’ll get that done and make it a lot neater and safer,” Flanagan said. “You see (the fence) pulling out at the end and (if) a kid goes by and rips his leg apart on that, it’s just a safety issue. We’ll get that fixed up and it’ll be three feet all along.”
The committee is also planning to re-side the press box at Berard Field.
Flanagan estimated the current cost of the upgrades at about $100,000, which is roughly what was budgeted. He said the $75,000 grant received from the provincial government in December has given the efforts a significant boost. That money is being used largely for the upgrades to the bleachers and fencing.
Another shot in the arm has come from members of the community rolling up their sleeves and pitching in.
“Working with people in town, we’re seeing lots of people that have done in-kind work for us,” Flanagan commented. “That’s a major help in the costs. I’m sure we’d (have spent) another $30,000 in costs right now (without the help).”
The co-chair added that the upgrades to Berard and Flanagan will be a boon to the town’s ball teams and fans long after the Canada Cup is over.
“I think one place our committee wanted to go was to get the fields back up to snuff. If we don’t do that, who is going to do it?” he remarked. “The fields are in pretty decent shape, it’s just the outer stuff (needing repairs). The bleachers were a mess, and now with the grant and the town’s help, after this tournament, it’ll just be minimal upkeep every year instead of a major (project).”
Everything seems to be on track for the national tournament, though Flanagan confessed one major lingering concern: whether the town’s hotels will be able to house all the temporary visitors.
“The big thing that still worries me is the hotel capacity. It may be okay without the oil field going, but if things get rolling on that end, it’s going to hurt some people booking in here. The teams will be picked mid-June and then we’re probably going to get a lot of calls from the East Coast and B.C. and all across the land, and hopefully we’ve got room for them,” he said.
“We’re expecting a thousand people a day going through the gates and without the hotel (capacity), that’ll slow things up. Hopefully it comes through.”
The 2009 Baseball Canada Cup will take place August 5-9. Of the tournament’s 36 games, 20 will be played at Berard Field, including the gold and bronze medal games.