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Local cricketers pushing hard to score dedicated field in Barrie

'We all would like to see a dedicated cricket facility in the city. The challenge is finding an area that is big enough and is not being used for something else,' says councillor
Members of the Barrie Strikers cricket club are pushing for a dedicated field in the city.

Barrie bowlers aiming for a proper home for their cricket wickets are asking the city for help in setting up a dedicated field for their games.

The sport, which originated in England and dates back hundreds of years, is growing in popularity here in Barrie.

The Barrie Area Malayali Association (BAMA) and its official cricket team, the Barrie Strikers, organized the Barrie Premier League (BPL) Season 1. Organizers hailed the one-day, six-team cricket tournament, held in July 2023, as a “resounding success.”

This year, they have announced an even larger event, the appropriately named BPL Season 2. This is set to be a two-day tournament featuring 16 teams and is scheduled for Aug. 17 to 18.

The Strikers have a "pressing need," though, says BAMA board member Nithin Liviero. They say they need a "dedicated" home field to compete on.

Liviero, who describes himself as a "passionate member" of the local cricket community, said the sport is “thriving” in Barrie.

Stock image. | Photo by Patrick Case via Pexels

The group launched a petition advocating for the establishment of a cricket facility.

"Within a short span, we received over 240 signatures, with the numbers increasing every day,” Liviero said. “This overwhelming response underscores the genuine interest and necessity for a cricket facility in our city.”

Previous BPL tournaments have been held at Maitland Park, near Grove and Johnson streets in the city’s northeast end.

This year's tournament in August will also be played at Maitland Park.

“We have the only cricket pitch in Barrie, which is shared with a baseball diamond," said Liviero. “There is huge demand in the community to have a dedicated facility for cricket, as one shared ground is not at all sufficient.”

In a related development, city council gave approval this week to a new multi-purpose, youth sports field and parade ground east of Military Heritage Park, along Barrie’s Lakeshore Drive.

This new artificial-turf field has been described as being geared toward soccer, rugby, football and lacrosse. There would also be amenities such as lighting, benches and other site furnishings.

It's unclear if cricket could be played there, but Liviero said BAMA members have spoken with city officials.

Kevin Bradley, Barrie's manager of parks planning, said the possibility of any future cricket pitches and fields will be addressed in the proposed parks strategic plan, which is currently forecast in the long-range capital budget to begin in 2029. 

"Staff are preparing a staff report in response to council direction to report back on the feasibility of advancing the strategic plan," he said. "Staff are planning to have the report submitted to general committee prior to their summer recess."

Citing cricket facilities in neighbouring municipalities such as Bradford, and allocation of funds in North Bay for a similar site, Liviero believes the demand for cricket infrastructure is being recognized and supported in other areas.

“Therefore, we believe it is crucial for the city of Barrie to invest in its own cricket facility to cater to the needs of its growing population of cricket enthusiasts,” he said.

Coun. Clare Riepma, who represents Ward 1, told BarrieToday they had a “good meeting” a few weeks ago.

“We all would like to see a dedicated cricket facility in the city,” he said. “The challenge is finding an area that is big enough and is not being used for something else. 

"In the interim, the cricket players will continue to book (the) Maitland (Park) field when it is available, and city staff will work with them to make it as suitable as practical," the councillor added. 

Riepma also said the city is looking at developing a strategy to manage parks and “open-space” needs for the future.

“This approach would examine all of the future sports and recreational needs in a holistic manner so that all of the requirements can be met efficiently and effectively,” he said. 

Riepma also said the recently approved facility on the Barrie waterfront "was looked at, but the area is not big enough for a cricket field."

Cricket is described as a bat-and-ball game played on a field between two teams of 11 players. At the centre of the field is a 22-yard pitch with a wicket at either end.

BAMA is a registered non-profit organization which was established in 2022.

Liviero said a third tournament is also a possibility this year and has been discussed. 

“These events not only showcase our commitment to cricket, but also reflect the community's unwavering interest in the game," he said. 

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Kevin Lamb

About the Author: Kevin Lamb

Kevin Lamb picked up a camera in 2000 and by 2005 was freelancing for the Barrie Examiner newspaper until its closure in 2017. He is an award-winning photojournalist, with his work having been seen in many news outlets across Canada and internationally
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