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No waterfront home for Baycats 'disappointing' for Massie

'I think a lot of wonderful opportunities would have come out of it. Enough people said 'I don't want to look at it, let's just kill it,' and that's what happened'
2019-06-11 Jamie Massie IM
Jamie Massie is shown in a file photo. Ian McInroy for BarrieToday

News that a new 3,000- to 4,000-seat multi-use stadium on the Barrie waterfront appears to have been scratched from the lineup doesn't come as a surprise to Jamie Massie, the local businessman who pitched the proposal back in October 2017.

Instead, city councillors are expected to approve a plan tonight that would focus on the naturalization of Allandale Station Park, the same land Massie hoped would be the new lakeshore home for the Intercounty Baseball League's Barrie Baycats.  

"What's disappointing for me is that council made a decision and, unfortunately, there was a bunch of people that came out and voiced opposition without taking the time to understand what the proposal was and what it meant to the community," Massie said of the proposed Military Heritage Place.

Not to be confused with neighbouring Military Heritage Park, Military Heritage Place was to be built along the shores of Kempenfelt Bay and include 21,000 square feet of commercial, retail and restaurant space.

"I think it was a good opportunity to bring the Baycats downtown, enhance our waterfront and basically honour the wishes of our forefathers in the sense of the Willard Kinzie's that put that waterfront together to be used for public use, public land," Massie added. "I don't think there's anything more public than sitting at a Barrie Baycats baseball game on the waterfront.

"Enough people spoke against it without looking, in my opinion, at what the proposal was ... just not in my backyard type of thing."

Instead of homers, touchdowns and free kicks, the land east of the Southshore Centre is now expected to provide a home for bees, butterflies, pollinating insects along with protection of existing red oak trees.

Baycats president David Mills admits it was disappointing when local citizens showed up at a city council meeting two years ago to basically say the waterfront stadium wasn't in the best interests of the city. That's why he says the organization kind of walked away from the plan.

"It's unfortunate," Mills said of council's expected approval of the naturalization plan. "The location would have been ideal for not only baseball, but for high school football, soccer, Barrie minor (sports). It would have been just an ideal location.

"It's part of the downtown that we thought would be just a great venue for people coming to town. Having dinner downtown and going over and watching a ballgame."

The Baycats currently play at the 1,500-seat Coates Stadium, located at the Barrie Community Sports Complex out in Midhurst.

Massie says there's another stadium proposal that's being worked on over the past year that would also move the club back into the city and make it easier for fans to attend games.

"I'm certainly a big supporter of the Barrie Baycats and I look forward to them finding a way to be more in our city, more accessible and let this community participate in terrific baseball," he said. "I think, as well, it will benefit the minor baseball leagues which we have a very strong association there. We'll see what happens."

Mills said councillors indicated at a meeting two years ago that they wanted the Baycats located in the city and would be searching for a new home for them.

"Two years ago, the city council indicated they would be locating a place for the Baycats to play in Barrie," he said. "We're waiting for that to happen."

Massie said it's the same resistance he felt when he first proposed the Barrie Molson Centre, which is now known as Sadlon Arena.

"I couldn't imagine our community without the Barrie Molson Centre and without the Barrie Colts," said the former Colts owner. 

Massie believes there would have been anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 people each game that would have supported local restaurants downtown and further enhanced our core community.

"I think a lot of wonderful opportunities would have come out of it," he said. "Enough people said 'I don't want to look at it, let's just kill it,' and that's what happened."

Gene Pereira

About the Author: Gene Pereira

An award-winning journalist, Gene is former sports editor of the Barrie Examiner and his byline has appeared in several newspapers. He is also the longtime colour analyst of the OHL Barrie Colts on Rogers TV
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