Minor baseball concerned about immediate future with pending loss of diamonds

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association (AMBA) is wondering where their players are going to play next season and took their concerns to town council.

AMBA president Mary Lippert appeared before town council and questioned where the local players plus ones coming to town to play in the multiple tournaments that have been scheduled are going to play. With the sale of 15 acres of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB), it means the loss of four diamonds there.

While there is a recommendation to relocate the diamonds to the Libro Centre, a concern with that is the fact no construction has started on those yet.

“Our biggest concern is if something doesn’t get done soon, our kids won’t have any place to play,” said Lippert.

Lippert added there is a fear that if youth start playing elsewhere, they won’t come back to Amherstburg even when new diamonds are built. There were also questions raised over the shape of the diamond and the ability to have the AMBA work on some of the diamonds to ensure they are in good shape.

“Are we going to have input on how they are built?” she also asked.

The premier baseball diamond, already located at the Libro Centre, has seen Amherstburg players “get the leftovers” of the times that are remaining while out-of-town users have received better bookings.

Image courtesy of Amherstburg Minor Baseball’s Twitter account (@AmherstburgBall)

“We live here,” said Lippert. “That’s unacceptable.”

It all comes down to ensuring local kids have a place to play baseball, she added.

“It’s the kids I worry about,” she said. “We want to make sure they have some place to play. What about next year if we’re not starting soon? What do we do for these 400 kids?”

CAO John Miceli said the diamonds at the Libro Centre won’t be ready for next year but the town will have to spend one year working with user groups. He said this year was taken care of through an arrangement with the GECDSB to use Centennial Park but arrangements have to be made for next year.

“We do have a number of diamonds available,” he said.

Work also has to be done if the town and Amherstburg baseball players are to use Co-An Park in McGregor and River Canard Park. The latter is run by the Town of LaSalle, said Lippert, and AMBA received a bill for $8,300 to use it last year.

Councillor Rick Fryer said they are “behind the eight-ball already” with minor baseball and wanted to know why the town was “dropping the ball” in addressing their needs. Miceli said the town “does not want to build anything in haste” and wants to see a “centre of excellence” at the Libro Centre.

“I know it’s an inconvenience but we want to have the best facilities going forward,” he said.

Lippert voiced concerns over user groups at other diamonds and questioned the town over why the issue wasn’t addressed before the 15 acres of Centennial Park was sold.

“Why didn’t this get looked at before we sold this property?” said Lippert.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the sale of the Centennial Park land was an issue of timing and that the town wants to have the best facilities it can even though there will be a year where it will be tougher for local baseball players to get to their games and practices.

“We are going to have a year of inconvenience where we will work this out,” said the mayor.

 

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