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Baycats make pitch for city funding to complete $400K in upgrades at Midhurst ballpark

Team urged to also pursue other funding sources; 'It’s going to be difficult to expect that taxpayers are going to be fronting this 100 per cent,' says councillor
2019-08-27 Baycats Panthers RB 16
In this file photo from 2019, fans attend Game 1 of the Intercounty Baseball League final against the Kitchener Panthers at Coates Stadium. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

The Barrie Baycats are looking for a $400,000 upgrade to Coates Stadium in Midhurst.

“It has been 20 years and there haven’t been any major changes or renovations to the park,” Baycats vice-president Paul Marley told the city’s finance and corporate services committee at its meeting Tuesday.

“We need to expand it and make it more fan-friendly," he added. 

What’s needed, Marley told the committee, is a much larger space for local and visiting media, and a mezzanine for fans and corporate gatherings, at the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) park, which located at Barrie Community Sports Complex north of the city.

“This would set the stadium up for another 10 or 20 years,” said Marley, who was supported by Baycats president David Mills at the meeting.

The committee, comprised of city councillors, later passed a motion directing city staff to assist with the planning investigation for funding and sponsorship opportunities for the expansion of the Barrie Baycats press box and mezzanine, and report back to finance and corporate services committee.

“That way it’s not a blank cheque of support,” said Coun. Sergio Morales, chairman of the committee. “I guess there’s no harm applying for the money.

“There’s no way I can make a capital investment on something that has to do with people capacity when we don’t even know how quickly we will return to normal, or what normal is and what those numbers are,” he added. “It’s very problematic for me.”

Coun. Gary Harvey said it’s important to find other funding sources.

“It’s going to be difficult to expect that taxpayers are going to be fronting this 100 per cent, especially when right now we know there are several grants available at both the provincial and federal levels,” he said. “It’s always a lot easier to get things approved when you can see shared costing, as opposed to 100 per cent taxpayer costing.”

Dawn McAlpine, Barrie’s general manager of community and corporate services, noted the city has spent some money on the baseball stadium.

“There has been some (spending), certainly not significant,” she said. “Over the years, there has been about $30,000 for upgrading batting equipment, exterior building lights, rubber flooring, stadium field lighting.”

The Baycats did not play in 2020 because of the pandemic, and the league cancelled its schedule, but there are plans to begin the 2021 season June 1. The Baycats are six-time defending IBL champions.

The Barrie Baycats Baseball Club is a not-for-profit enterprise.