News of a new indoor facility was revealed, as the Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball Association celebrated opening day on Saturday.
As he talked about some highlights of the coming hardball season, association president Bruce Evans revealed the association is working with the parks, recreation and culture on a new indoor practice facility. Hammond Stadium has been mentionned as a possible location.
His speech was part of the official ceremonies which included speeches, politicians throwing out first pitches, singing of the national athem of both Canada and of the sport – Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Then every team in the association got on the field to get ready for the coming season, got their photos taken and a hot dog.
At present, local teams travel to Langley and even Richmond to practice indoors. Some use a barn at the Albion Fairgrounds, but it is too small for older athletes to use.
The new indoor training facilities would feature a batting cage and pitching mound, and Evans said it could be a game-changer for the association. The most talented players will have a place to hone their skills, and not feel they have to leave their home town to develop their skills to the highest level, he said.
More concrete plans for the facility should be announced by the end of May.
The association is coming off a successful season, in which 11 of 13 summer ball teams made it to the provincial playdowns.
The Challenger program continues to grow in its second season, for kids who have cognitive of physical challenges. It is a program sponsored by the Toronto Blue Jays, and is expanding across Canada.
“It’s awesome – it gives every kid an opportunity to play baseball,” said Evans
Evans announced the volunteer of the year from last season is Les Giles for all the work he gives to minor ball, and he is back as the midget commissioner and as a coach again this season.
And the new baseball academy at Garibaldi secondary will be opening in September.
“That can only be good for baseball,” said Evans.
The association will also host the midget and junior baseball provincials in the coming season.