Lake Cowichan District Minor Baseball Association has pleaded with the Town of Lake Cowichan to fix the baseball field at Centennial Park in time for next season.
Bryan Hill, president of the LCDMBA, wrote a letter to council stating the association may have both a midget and bantam team next year.
Currently, the lower field at Centennial Park is unplayable and Lake Cowichan teams must travel elsewhere to play their ‘home games.’
Council has already set aside $30,000 for ball park improvements.
“I am hoping the town can find the money to add to what has already been set aside for the lower field so we can make it our home field again,” said Hill in his letter. “I would like to see the association and Nagi Rizk (superintendent of public works) possibly meet to discuss if it is viable to use what you have given us to level and grade the field this summer and maybe trench it and put drainage in next year if we get more funding. This is the only way I can see it being usable next year as our home field.”
Hill added that the bantam team this year won the South Island championship and said the only thing that would have made that better was “if we could have done this playing on fields in our home town and I hope we can make this possible for teams in the future.”
Coun. Bob Day sympathized with Hill and hopes council can move forward somehow, despite money constraints, to fix the field for good.
“In my mind, I’ve been dealing with this issue with the public for three or four years now,” said Day at July’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee meeting. “We could have two teams that won’t be playing their home games in Lake Cowichan. I realize with budget we can’t do anymore than $30,000 but I still feel bad. We spent $7 million that we got from the taxpayer to build the sports arena, but we can’t get the baseball field up to scratch. It’s time we get down there and get it done somehow.
“I’m not putting down this table or past tables, but we want to attract young families to come here.”
Day was referencing the Cowichan Sportsplex in North Cowichan, a multi-million dollar facility, and Mayor Ross Forrest believes this is the expectation local baseball players now have.
“That field is a multi-million dollar facility, it’s used by lots of people,” said Forrest at the meeting. “That is the expectation our ball players have now after playing there. I understand that but unless we have grant money, I don’t see how we can do that. We can’t fix our field for $100,000 as we don’t have the capacity. It’s tough.”
Rizk believes his hands are tied.
“Unless we come up with a plan that’s viable and responsible where we know how everything is going to work, I’m not sure what else I can do,” he said. “I am in touch with Bryan and I said we could trench it and fix the drainage in time for next year. I’d be glad to consider any plans we or they may have, then we can review and go to the experts. It will depend on budget.”
Day is set to remain hopeful.
“We went to a referendum to get money and got $7.6 million for the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena,” he said. “We don’t need that much. To have teams playing here, that’s the future of the town. We need to put the back and forth to bed.”
Forrest also wants to see baseball return to the field as soon as possible.
“I want to see baseball there. But to get to the level of expectation that they have now is going to take an awful lot. We have to keep applying for grants as we don’t have the capacity right now unless we raise a lot of money. We need big financial help. I would love to see it happen.”