Thursday August 28, 2014

What’s next on Yorkton’s recreation radar?


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week:

Play ball!

For years I’ve been saying that the City of Yorkton should have an indoor baseball facility.

My opinion hasn’t changed.  If anything, it’s gotten more intense.

Yorkton should have, nay, Yorkton needs, an indoor baseball facility.

Think about it if you disagree with me. Done thinking?

Still think I’m wrong? Then take a gander outside. See all that white stuff? It’s called snow and it’s hell for Canadian baseball players.

And there are a ton of baseball players in the area. They just don’t have a place to work on their skills for roughly half the year.

If Yorkton had an indoor baseball facility the baseball players from Yorkton, Melville and area wouldn’t have to travel to Regina or Saskatoon just to hone their skills in the offseason and keep themselves in shape for the regular season.

If we had batting cages (just one part of an indoor facility), baseball players and “normal” people alike could take a couple of hacks, maybe get a hold of one and enjoy the feeling of putting a jolt into the ball.

And don’t get me started on the need for a bullpen in the indoor baseball facility! It would be extremely beneficial for anyone, from wee little children to adults who want to pitch.

Right now the closest indoor facility is in Regina… How many baseball players from the Yorkton area are able to take an entire day off just to go and practice for a couple of hours?

An indoor baseball facility would go a long way in rejuvenating the Yorkton baseball program, as well as programs from around the city.

Make it happen, Yorkton.

— Randy Brenzen

Free and easy

Recreational facilities are important to any community.

For small towns the hockey arena is central as a gathering place, and of generating pride with every home team goal and victory.

It’s the same with the curling rink.

We in Canada love ice, witnessed by the pride generated by the recent gold medals achieved in curling and hockey.

Recreational facilities are also key elements with a community in terms of local business and industry attracting staff. When factors to attract business to Yorkton are discussed, health care, education and recreational facilities are generally seen as the big three on the list of what management and staff want away from the workplace.

So what could be added to the local recreational mosaic in Yorkton to make our community a little better place to be?

That is a difficult question since recreational facilities often fall to the municipality to fund, both construction and long term operations, and there are growing needs in terms of infrastructure renewal which limit dollars for new rec’ projects.

It also seems something of an investment of diminishing returns, for as much as we want more recreational opportunities, getting people away from their big screen televisions and computer games and out participating is increasingly difficult.

But there are still recreational elements which would be great to see in the city.

While not owning a pooch, I appreciate those who would like to see a dog park where canines can run free.

And as a second suggestion; the Brodie Avenue redevelopment is geared to recreation with skateboarding at one end, and disc golf on the other, both being free to use with limited operational costs, ideal developments from a municipal perspective. They are also ideal type facilities to attract youth activity.

A radio control car track would be an ideal fit for the park area, and again be something users could access free, and it would fit with the idea of youth participation in the area.

— Calvin Daniels

Pitch perfect

This is one of those questions that should prompt research. What does the city need that it doesn’t already have?

I’m not going to go with that, though. I am going to go selfish. It will come as little surprise that what I want to see is a cricket ground. I am, after all, the vice-president of the Yorkton Cricket Association.

It’s not entirely selfish, though. Cricket is a great sport and I firmly believe people in Yorkton would embrace it if they just got to know it.

Having our own cricket ground would provide that opportunity. It would also provide yet another choice for children to get involved in sports.

Furthermore, the sport is growing exponentially in Canada and Saskatchewan. A few years ago there were a handful of teams in the Saskatchewan Cricket League, all in Regina and Saskatoon.

Last year, the Yorkton Yorkers became the first team outside those two big cities and the league grew to 16 teams.

This year there are 23 teams, including a new entry from Estevan and the Saskatchewan Cricket Association had to divide the league into three divisions.

Recreational facilities are extremely important to a community. Right now, Yorkton is growing and attracting a lot of immigration, largely from parts of the world where cricket is as big as hockey is in Canada.

Attracting people is one thing. Keeping them here is another. Having facilities that fit with their cultural backgrounds is important.

It’s unfortunate, I think, that we lost cricket. Around the time of confederation, cricket was the big sport in Canada. It makes sense since the  country was largely initially populated with Brits.

The first international cricket match ever was contested between Canada and the United States.

In the early 20th century Yorkton’s cricket team even hosted the Australian national team for a match.

I guess it is somewhat understandable that the sport would fall by the wayside in North America in the fast-paced world of the latter half of the 20th  century. Who had time to play, or watch a test match that could go on for days.

We have an answer for that now with the T20 format of the game that lasts about as long as hockey, baseball or football games.

The upside is it would be relatively cheap to make a cricket ground. The downside is it takes a lot of space, more than a soccer pitch.

It could also provide revenue-generating opportunities with the potential for tournaments and such.

A cricket ground is something we should have in Yorkton.

— Thom Barker



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