Diamond desires

John
John Browne
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SJMBA remains hopeful it can acquire, develop exclusive-use ballfields

While the St. John's Minor Baseball Association didn't get what it was looking for following a recent meeting with the city's parks and recreation committee, association president Robert Morgan remains optimistic.

The association met with the city a few weeks ago and indicated, among other things, it was looking to acquire the use of Bannerman Park ball field as an exclusive-use facility for minor baseball; to develop the field adjacent to St. Pat's Ball Park for exclusive use of the association and to partner with the city to develop these fields and cost-share needed infrastructure.

While the St. John's Minor Baseball Association didn't get what it was looking for following a recent meeting with the city's parks and recreation committee, association president Robert Morgan remains optimistic.

The association met with the city a few weeks ago and indicated, among other things, it was looking to acquire the use of Bannerman Park ball field as an exclusive-use facility for minor baseball; to develop the field adjacent to St. Pat's Ball Park for exclusive use of the association and to partner with the city to develop these fields and cost-share needed infrastructure.

The city's recreation director, Jill Brewer, as recorded in city council minutes, noted the Bannerman Park field is one of the city's most popular fields and is at full capacity.

She said in order to accommodate minor baseball, the existing users would have to be moved elsewhere. She said the city is attempting to find some hours for the baseball association, however, they cannot accommodate the group to the extent of the demand it has requested.

And, Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff, speaking on behalf of the surrounding Bannerman Park neighbourhood, opposed the idea of installing nets and lighting which she felt would be a huge distraction to the quiet neighbourhood.

In regards to constructing an adjacent field to St. Pat's Ball Park, city staff indicated that a very small field can be installed but will not likely suit the required demand.

The parks and recreation department estimates it costs between $150,000-$200,000 to reconfigure or construct a field which does not have major excavation or grading issues.

In the meantime, the parks and recreation committee told the St. John's minor association it will continue to work with them to, "accommodate their needs for the Atlantic tournament scheduled in September, including the use of Bannerman Park."

"If we continue to grow and the city continues to grow, the city should have the foresight to aquire land and develop it within the next few years for recreation facilties," said Morgan.

"I'm optimistic the city will do that, but it has to be brought to their attention. We've got to keep the fire burning if we want to get something done."

Morgan said he is not discouraged by the city's response to the association's needs.

"I understand where they are coming from," he said. "It's just that we feel very strongly that a lot more of the premier parks within St. John's should be devoted to minor instead of men's recreational leagues. I guess in today's society, adults want to be a lot more active and that's all well and good, but it's putting more pressure on the facilities.

"We felt that Bannerman Park, for instance, is a family setting and minor baseball fits right in.

"The best we can hope for this summer is partial use of the parks and possibly gain an additional field.

"However, I'm sure the city will come up with enough field time to handle our growing (registration) numbers."

Morgan said minor baseball registration peaked during the early 1990s when the Toronto Blue Jays were winning back-to-back World Series titles.

"At that time, we had close to 1,000 registered, but in the late 1990s, that fell to all all-time low of about 260."

Last year's registration was almost 550 and Morgan noted the program is on pace this year to hit between 580-600 participants.

"Ideally, the city needs to pick up land somewhere and construct a two-to-three -field complex like you see in other centres on the mainland," said Morgan who has been keeping an eye out for ideal locations for such a facility.

"We're hoping to line up meetings over the summer with the city to address these issues," he continued.

"But I will give the city credit in managing to come up with field time for us at different places over the years"

However, Morgan pointed out the association has lost minor baseball diamonds at St. Pat's Ball Park, Churchill Park and Bowring Park over the years,

"I understand Wedgewood Park may lose that ballfield within the next two or three years as well," he said.

"The city is growing and there are more and more adults playing sports such as touch football, ultimate frisbie or recreational softball," said Morgan.

"All of this, combined with the growing population of St. John's, is putting pressure on existing facilities, and we're just not getting any new ones."

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Minor Baseball Association, Toronto Blue Jays

Geographic location: St. John's, Bannerman Park, Ball Park Churchill Park Bowring Park Wedgewood Park

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Todd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    The fields are all blocked up thanks to the over grown babies who get enjoyment out of hitting a softball thrown underhand at what 10-30 miles per hour? They should be ashamed of themselves. At least the kids are looking for a bit of a challenge by playing baseball!

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    I was involved with St. John's Minor Baseball in the 1990s I am so happy to see the registration increase, as this is a wonderful game that makes children use their minds as well as stay active. The mistake made at St. Pat's was turning the field next to the main ballpark into a soccer pitch. The facility could have accommodated two back-to-back minor fields and would have created a wonderful baseball area that combined the minor, junior and senior games. That's what the City should invest in. I agree with Mr. Morgan. It's great that more adults are active, but let's do things for our children. Why are we so selfish that we must only build facilities for ourselves? Do something for the kids - even if the affluent residents around Bannerman Park have to put up with lights and nets. A small price to pay for a city whose recreational infrastructure is an embarassment.

  • nt
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I was involved with minor baseball for many years as a player and an umpire, and I to am pleased to see the number of kids involved increasing. One thing I noticed more so when I was umpiring is that as soon as the sun goes down the games must end and everyone goes home. A possible short term relief to the field shortage would be installation of lights on exsisting fields which currently have none ie. Wiching Well & Terra Nova etc. This could easily add an extra game for younger childern or possibly 2 for older childern where late games are less of a concern. This could easily relieve much pressure in a tight packed schedual and everyone loves to play under the lights. Last off, cheers to Mr. Morgan I know he will represent minor baseball well and his main concern is just to get as many childern possible a chance to play baseball.

    nt

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    The city has spent a lot of money on soccer. Its time to spread it around a little. We've got baseball and softball players from St. John's playing on the mainland and could have more if we had the facilities to help foster their development.

    Why not look at redeveloping Wishingwell Park into a multifield facility. The current state of the senior field there is atrocius (no drainage, garbage still coming up through the ground from the dump it was built on) and the central location would be fantastic. There's lots of space for multiple softball/minor baseball diamonds that could be used by all.

    I realize St. John's is a small city, but I've lived in similar sized cities on both sides of the border with these kinds of parks.

  • Keepin' It Real
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Why do I always see the name ''Shannie Duff'' and the word ''opposes'' next to each other?

    Anyone?

  • Michael
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    The thought of resrticting a downtown ball field for the exclusive use of ANY group is wrong. You visit any well planned city in the world (i.e. not Halifax) and you will find that the downtown green zones are always for the public's use - all of the public. If you want to a modern facility then take it somewhere else and as suggested, if necessary, find a suitable place to build it. The Bannerman park ball field has always been enjoyed by everyone in the area and when not in use by organized softball you can usually find kids or families playing in the field.

  • LC
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    My son has been playing baseball since the age of five and he really enjoys it( now 14yrs.) We've had to use alot of ill equiped fields over the years while the soccer and softball players get all the nice facilities. Why is this? And now there's talk of Wedgewood Park being lost!! You gotta be kidding me. It's one of the better fields around.We need more places like that with upgrades like dugouts , lighting, nets , and dare I say washroom facilities. So much for the city's( Shameful Shannie) help in keeping our kids more active. I guess that only applies to certain sports. Good luck Mr.Morgan, but I think you're banging you're head against a brick wall. Swing batter batter.

  • Todd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    The fields are all blocked up thanks to the over grown babies who get enjoyment out of hitting a softball thrown underhand at what 10-30 miles per hour? They should be ashamed of themselves. At least the kids are looking for a bit of a challenge by playing baseball!

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    I was involved with St. John's Minor Baseball in the 1990s I am so happy to see the registration increase, as this is a wonderful game that makes children use their minds as well as stay active. The mistake made at St. Pat's was turning the field next to the main ballpark into a soccer pitch. The facility could have accommodated two back-to-back minor fields and would have created a wonderful baseball area that combined the minor, junior and senior games. That's what the City should invest in. I agree with Mr. Morgan. It's great that more adults are active, but let's do things for our children. Why are we so selfish that we must only build facilities for ourselves? Do something for the kids - even if the affluent residents around Bannerman Park have to put up with lights and nets. A small price to pay for a city whose recreational infrastructure is an embarassment.

  • nt
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    I was involved with minor baseball for many years as a player and an umpire, and I to am pleased to see the number of kids involved increasing. One thing I noticed more so when I was umpiring is that as soon as the sun goes down the games must end and everyone goes home. A possible short term relief to the field shortage would be installation of lights on exsisting fields which currently have none ie. Wiching Well & Terra Nova etc. This could easily add an extra game for younger childern or possibly 2 for older childern where late games are less of a concern. This could easily relieve much pressure in a tight packed schedual and everyone loves to play under the lights. Last off, cheers to Mr. Morgan I know he will represent minor baseball well and his main concern is just to get as many childern possible a chance to play baseball.

    nt

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    The city has spent a lot of money on soccer. Its time to spread it around a little. We've got baseball and softball players from St. John's playing on the mainland and could have more if we had the facilities to help foster their development.

    Why not look at redeveloping Wishingwell Park into a multifield facility. The current state of the senior field there is atrocius (no drainage, garbage still coming up through the ground from the dump it was built on) and the central location would be fantastic. There's lots of space for multiple softball/minor baseball diamonds that could be used by all.

    I realize St. John's is a small city, but I've lived in similar sized cities on both sides of the border with these kinds of parks.

  • Keepin' It Real
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Why do I always see the name ''Shannie Duff'' and the word ''opposes'' next to each other?

    Anyone?

  • Michael
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    The thought of resrticting a downtown ball field for the exclusive use of ANY group is wrong. You visit any well planned city in the world (i.e. not Halifax) and you will find that the downtown green zones are always for the public's use - all of the public. If you want to a modern facility then take it somewhere else and as suggested, if necessary, find a suitable place to build it. The Bannerman park ball field has always been enjoyed by everyone in the area and when not in use by organized softball you can usually find kids or families playing in the field.

  • LC
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    My son has been playing baseball since the age of five and he really enjoys it( now 14yrs.) We've had to use alot of ill equiped fields over the years while the soccer and softball players get all the nice facilities. Why is this? And now there's talk of Wedgewood Park being lost!! You gotta be kidding me. It's one of the better fields around.We need more places like that with upgrades like dugouts , lighting, nets , and dare I say washroom facilities. So much for the city's( Shameful Shannie) help in keeping our kids more active. I guess that only applies to certain sports. Good luck Mr.Morgan, but I think you're banging you're head against a brick wall. Swing batter batter.