Baseball will stand up for stadium

NANAIMO – The Nanaimo Minor Baseball Association is concerned about the future of Serauxmen Stadium.

Scott Leaf

Scott Leaf

A new secondary school and sports stadium are still far-off fantasies for the Nanaimo school district, but minor baseball is fearful.

The Nanaimo Minor Baseball Association is concerned about the future of Serauxmen Stadium after the school board endorsed earlier this summer an NDSS site study that recommended the demolition of the ballpark.

Scott Leaf, minor baseball president, said the site study came as a “complete shock” to his membership.

“They can’t understand how a proposal could even be considered when it doesn’t even acknowledge or factor in the fabric of baseball and the number of kids playing baseball in the community,” he said.

The study, prepared by Cornerstone Architecture and Planning Group, presents various options for the 16-hectare parcel of land and recommends that Rotary Bowl track and field stadium be relocated overtop of the ballpark site.

Minor baseball responded by putting up ‘save our stadium’ posters in July and earlier this month Leaf wrote to Phil Turin, the school district’s secretary-treasurer, advocating for the ballpark.

“No decisions have been made on anything to do with the Nanaimo secondary school redevelopment project,” said Turin, and the school district sent out a press release last week in response to Leaf’s letter.

“We are probably several years away from even deciding about the future of the facilities on the site,” said Dot Neary, board chairwoman, in the release. “Our goal is to work with the community to find solutions that serve everyone’s needs, while allowing redevelopment of the NDSS site to its best potential.”

The press release notes that “the board is not currently considering any proposals that would result in the demolition of the Serauxmen Stadium,” though Neary told the Bulletin earlier this summer that trustees would look at all recommendations in the site study.

Nanaimo currently has two 90-foot diamonds, Serauxmen Stadium and Mariner Field. Leaf said without the stadium, minor baseball would have to reduce programming.

Richard Harding, the City of Nanaimo’s director of parks, recreation and environment, agreed that one 90-foot diamond would not accommodate baseball, but said concerns are “really premature” considering it’s only a concept plan that is being circulated.

Mariner Field could be upgraded “to a point, but we’d have to look at that in more detail,” Harding said. “We haven’t spent any time looking at replacement of Serauxmen Stadium.”

The school district expects to begin consultation on the NDSS site study within the next two months. Nanaimo’s baseball fans intend to make their voices heard.

“The legacy and the history and the sweat and the tears and hard work that went into building this only further motivates everyone who’s involved with the stadium to keep it alive…” Leaf said. “This is one of the most unique stadiums in Western Canada. For the kids to get a chance to play in here, it’s very special.”