Republic diamonds get much needed facelift
Diamonds 7 and 8 at Republic Park received some much needed improvements, included sheltered dugouts and narrowed basepaths. (Aaron Wilgosh/The Graphic)
Aaron Wilgosh - The Graphic/Herald Leader Contributor
A diamond in the rough no more.
A couple of diamonds at Rotary Republic Park have had some upgrades done now that the 2017 baseball season is complete, and it’s a big step toward bringing a junior baseball team to the city. The Portage Regional Recreation Authority (PRRA) had the project in mind for a while and feel it’s going to be a benefit to local teams, and the community.
“There’s been a big push to get upgrades done at the park for years,” says PRRA general manager, David Sattler. “There’s also a large desire from a group of individuals to bring a junior baseball team to Portage, much like the Portage Terriers, but some improvements were needed to get the fields up to that kind of standard and we’re proud to say they’re almost complete.”
Both diamonds 7 and 8 were the recipients of the work and now boast sheltered dugouts to keep teams dry and out of the wind, improved fence lines to make sure balls stay in play, and renovated pitching mounds and infields to match MLB specs. Along with the improvements to the fields, the PRRA has also set up a new dual-lane batting cage to handle heavy traffic during tournaments.
“The return will be a huge benefit for the city,” adds Sattler. “When we look at hosting things like Western Canadian Championships, National Championships, and any other tournaments like provincials, those diamonds wouldn’t have been able to compete in the state they were, now we will be able to.”
Local baseball enthusiast and driver of the junior baseball movement, Shane Moffatt is excited about the possibility of having a junior baseball team in Portage la Prairie. He says the upgrades to the dugouts were necessary to have a team like that here as their season usually starts earlier and ends later, so they need some shelter from the elements.
“I’ve got a corporate sponsor in place for jerseys, and it’s really just a matter of finding enough bodies to make it happen,” admits Moffatt. “I’ll be making some phone calls to some players in the coming weeks and now that the diamonds are looking the way they do, I think it’ll be a lock.”
The $48,500 project was made possible thanks to donations from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, Portage la Prairie Rotary Club, the City of Portage la Prairie and a local donor who wished to remain anonymous.