A little more than one year after it was first imagined, Bradford’s new cricket field was hosting its first practice and offering up a 'wicket' good time.
The sun shone brightly as councillors, residents and members of the Bradford Cricket Club gathered recently under blue skies for the official unveiling at Joe Magani Park.
Bradford Mayor James Leduc opened the event on Friday evening by thanking everyone for attending, extending his appreciation for the efforts of staff and council as well as giving a special thanks to the previous council for initiating the project.
“What started off as just a mere idea, turned into an incredible addition to the town’s large inventory of sports field spaces. ... The new cricket pitch comes at the perfect time with the new school year coming up just around the corner, and the warm weather continuing to grace our parks. ... I’m thrilled that we now have the opportunity for Bradford Cricket Club to grow its programs here in BWG,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Raj Sandhu then spoke about the way integrating different types of sports fields in one area can help expose people to new ideas, while also helping to build community.
“Cricket is not just a sport; it’s also about bonding, about families getting together and about learning each other’s cultures,” he said.
In an interview after the speeches, Sandhu extolled the efforts of staff to make the pitch a reality, and credited them with taking the time to follow official cricket regulations to make sure every part of the field would be as proper as possible.
“I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t expect this to be honest with you,” he said of the pitch quality and appearance.
Bradford Cricket Club executive committee member Ankit Patel also gave the pitch a positive reception.
“It’s feeling very great. It came out very nice and it looks beautiful, so we are ready to play on it. We want to bring some more excitement, bring some teams from outside of town and create some good games,” he said.
Not wasting any time, the club has plans for a tournament beginning on Sept. 9 and running for four weekends, in which 10 teams are expected to compete.
“We never expected that this would come out so fast. Usually it takes a few years to get it done, so it’s really quick and we’re really grateful for all the supports we got from the town,” he said.
Dhaval Patel, also an executive committee member, emphasized how open and accepting council were of the idea.
“We just met with the mayor and deputy mayor and they made it happen here. They helped us a lot. This beautiful cricket pitch, we never had it in the north area where we don’t get this type of pitch,” he said, noting that the nearest cricket facility of the same quality is all the way in Brampton.
Former Ward 3 Coun. Gary Lamb, was also in attendance and was the member of the previous council who first asked staff to look into the pitch.
He thanked the mayor for inviting him to the event and joked that it had brought him out of hiding.
“I think it’s exciting and I think it’s another addition to the great recreation facilities that even me as a former councillor has always supported,” he said in an interview.
Lamb credited the previous council’s support of his request, but also current council’s efforts to make sure the idea from late in the previous term lived on to become a reality, instead of getting left behind.
“You know, I’m a hockey guy and golf and curling, but I’m also open to everything else, because recreation is a great thing to keeps kids occupied. ... I’m proud to have been a part of this,” he said.
On the final weekend of July last summer, the club hosted a game against Alliston at Henderson Memorial Park, by flattening the grass to create a pitch in the middle of soccer field, since there weren’t any cricket fields available in town.
Then deputy mayor Leduc, then Ward 1 Coun. Sandhu and then Ward 3 Coun. Lamb all attended the club’s post-game celebration that weekend and all agreed a temporary solution was needed.
Only a few days later, during the council meeting on Aug. 2, Lamb requested staff investigate installing a temporary cricket pitch in Henderson Memorial Park.
As early as 2014, Phase 2 of the park’s development had been expected to include a multi-use area which could be used as a cricket pitch (among other things), but the final design and timeline for that part of Phases 2 had yet to be determined.
During the Oct. 22, 2022 council meeting, Terry Foran, director of community services, provided a report to council that suggested it would be better to look for a different location than to try altering existing soccer fields at Henderson Memorial Park to accommodate cricket.
“Cricket actually has a greater space need for play than a full-size soccer field can offer; this can cause conflict with other user groups in proximity, similar to baseball and soccer,” Foran noted in his report.
Based on those space constraints as well as advice from municipalities within the GTA and from Cricket Canada, staff presented council with four options for the cricket field at Joe Magani Park with council selecting Option 4, which included a 12-by-174-foot (3.5 metres by 53 metres) cricket pitch, with a reinforced concrete slab covered in a synthetic turf surface and two stump boxes.
Construction began on June 22 of this year and at 100 m by 90 m, the oval field is smaller than a regulation cricket field, which usually measure 140 m by 150 m.
That means hardball cricket games won’t be permitted, but Foran expects it will still be appropriate for softball cricket games.
In a previous interview, Foran compared starting with a softball cricket pitch to starting with a junior ball diamond before building a senior ball diamond, or a five-versus-five soccer pitch before a full-sized soccer pitch.
Staff initially estimated the project would cost $93,000, but the winning tender from Latitude 67, came in about 7.5 per cent more expensive at $99,780.77.
Anyone wishing to rent the new pitch can contact the town’s booking clerk at 905-775-5366 ext. 5202.