A new indoor baseball facility is one step closer to reality after the White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association received a $195,535 capital grant from the provincial government’s Community Gaming Grants program earlier this month.
In a Jan. 17 news release, the BC NDP announced that the youth baseball association was one of a handful of organizations throughout the province to have received a grant, which will “help build a new indoor training facility and deliver better services to Surrey.”
“Local organizations like the White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association are integral to our community because they help both the young and young-at-heart stay active and connected with each other,” Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Mike Starchuk said in the release.
“As someone who’s been involved in the baseball world for over 30 years, I know the value that an indoor training facility has for athletes.”
The facility is to be built at White Rock’s Centennial Park, adjacent to the baseball field that is currently there.
“Everybody’s excited about it,” WRSSBA president Randy McKinnon told Peace Arch News.
The new building – which McKinnon called a “three-tunnel structure” – will include three batting cages. The walls between them will also be retractable, so the space can be opened up “for fielding ground balls, or things like that.”
The new building will replace the two outdoor batting cages that are currently on the site.
“It’s quite small, and very exposed to the elements,” McKinnon said of the old batting cages.
In addition to the provincial grant, WRSSBA also received $50,000 from the City of White Rock.
The Semiahmoo Peninsula already has one indoor training facility – a few blocks north of the proposed Centennial Park project, at South Surrey Athletic Park. And though that building is less than 20 years old, McKinnon said it’s so heavily used, that a second set of indoor cages was badly needed.
WRSSBA is one of the province’s biggest minor baseball associations, and McKinnon noted that the current facility is also used by the White Rock Tritons baseball program; softball associations like the White Rock Renegades and South Surrey-White Rock Thunder, plus “some other programs we rent it out for as well.”
“There’s just a need for a second indoor (facility)… we have a need to expand.”
McKinnon said the idea of building a new indoor facility was first brought up about three years ago, and two years ago the association started to really get the ball rolling – looking for locations, as well as saving up enough money so they could contribute to the project “in a meaningful way.”
McKinnon said the new facility will cost “roughly $600,000” to build.
In order to ensure baseball activities at Centennial Park aren’t disrupted this coming season, McKinnon said construction on the project won’t begin until August, and is hoped to be completed by January 2023.