News Views: Second rate
The District of Maple Ridge, with help from a federal grant, will spend more than half a million dollars to spiffy up the western baseball field in Hammond.
The money will be used to level the playing surface, add new grass, improve drainage, as well as install a new backstop, dugouts and permanent outfield fence.
No doubt the improvements and dedication as a full-time diamond will benefit players, but they are no where near what the local minor ball organization originally envisioned: a $9 million facility capable of attracting a B.C. Premier Baseball League team and hosting events worthy of the historic name the field currently bears – Hammond Stadium.
There is no stadium to speak of, nor will there be anytime soon. That is unfortunate, but consistent with the second-rate facilities user groups in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are accustomed to.
Our two communities share a few fine playing surfaces, but nothing with the capacity to host major events, as the mayor of Maple Ridge so wishes.
Our facilities lack seating or parking or lighting, or changing space. And some of the fields aren’t even suitable for grazing. The outfield at Ruskin Park is where ACLs go to die.
Almost every ball field in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is made of sand, which is great for drainage, but not so for sliding, hitting or pitching. It’s too soft and gives way, affecting footing and balance vital to performing many athletic tasks.
If you build second-rate facilities, or let what you have fall into disrepair, you get second-rate organizations. Your best players and coaches go elsewhere, which Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball knows all too well.
Surrounding communities invest more in minor sports, especially their facilities, and the results speak for themselves. Look around.
If the district wants to get one thing right, it will at least invest in some red clay for the Hammond infield, create a surface the players want to play on, one that allows them to develop their skills properly, on par with their counterparts.
Make it a real ball field.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News