Ballpark going to public meeting

The Hay River Mixed Slopitch Association’s proposal to create a multi-diamond facility in Hay River will be the subject of a public discussion later this month.

On April 30, slopitch league members and the general public are asked to come out and hear the project committee explain what the twinning project would involve.

Committee chair Glenn Smith said the purpose of the meeting is to go through the proposal and gather feedback and concerns from the community in hopes the project can move forward.

Discussions of twinning the park have been ongoing for several years, said Smith, noting it wasn’t until last year that a proposal was submitted to the town.

The proposal estimates the cost of twinning the park would be around $226,000. The slopitch association would pay for 60 per cent, or $135,600, with the remaining 40 per cent coming from the town’s recreation department.

The project will not only benefit the slopitch league, said Smith.

“This isn’t just for slopitch,” he said. “It also involves fastpitch and the minor league, too.”

Smith said the diamonds could also be used for soccer pitches in the summer.

“There’s an opportunity for that to be a two-in-one facility,” he said.

Smith said he hopes by having a twinned facility with a larger capacity that the sport of slopitch and other baseball variations will grow in Hay River.

The slopitch association also argues there is more that the town can gain from a larger facility than just a few more players.

Other NWT communities including Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson have multi-diamond facilities that allow them to host larger tournaments and events.

In previous years, teams had to be turned away from the Coors Tournament, Hay River’s largest mixed slopitch event, due to a lack of capacity.

By adding a second diamond, more players and more spectators would be able to enjoy the event, which Smith said will bring in more money for the town.

“It is kind of a build it and they will come situation,” he said.

Smith estimated $40,000 could be raised each year at the Coors Tournament.

“Basically the project would pay for itself in a couple of years,” he said. “We could see a positive return on this investment within the community in the next year or two.”

The association hopes construction will begin this year should the project be approved.

However, before the project can go any further, a land survey must be completed to see what work needs to be done to the
area.

The space being considered is currently covered by trees, but Smith estimated the project would only impact about nine per cent of the vegetated park zone behind Stewart Drive and a large part of the area would be recovered with grass.

“We’ll be aiming to minimize the impact of the trail system in the area while increasing access to the riverbank,” said Smith. “We want this to be the most scenic ball park in the NWT.”

The public meeting will be held at the Community Hall at 7 p.m. on April 30.