The Kamloops Minor Baseball Association's fundraising push for a new indoor facility officially kicked off Thursday, but - to use a baseball term - it's already halfway home.
KMBA officially announced plans to construct a 5,000 square-foot facility on McArthur Island at a news conference yesterday. The facility is to be built behind an existing concession and washroom stand in the centre of the island.
Calling it Kamloops' "indoor Field of Dreams," Sean Wandler, head coach of the midget AAA RiverDogs, a KMBA director and chair of the building committee, announced the plans and spoke about how long the baseball community has been waiting for an indoor facility.
"I played in minor baseball and have been around since I was five years old," said Wandler. "It's been a long time coming, having a project like this, and it seemed like the stars aligned and the right people showed up at the right time.
"It is a very exciting time for baseball."
The facility will be 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 24 feet tall, with an indoor ceiling of 22 feet, and will use the existing washrooms. A vestibule between the two buildings is in the plans, but that's "Phase 2," Wandler said, and there is no timeline for it.
Wandler added that he hopes construction will begin this spring, with an eye on opening the doors for training by the time fall comes around.
There's a lot of work to do. The building's cost is estimated at $300,000, but KMBA already has raised half of that.
The City of Kamloops is providing a $100,000 loan at two per cent - not to mention a $1 annual lease on the land - while the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society's Sports Legacy Fund has agreed to give $75,000 over the next five years.
The rest will be raised by a fundraising committee led by Norm Daley of Daley and Co., and with help from Bryce Herman and Jack Hollstedt, who will be knocking on doors, and Aleece Laird of Fresh Inc. Marketing.
"It will be up to Bryce and Jack and the fundraising team," Wandler said, "and the Kamloops community - they've stepped up so many times in the past with so many projects."
The fundraisers have designated baseball terms for the amount people or groups donate - for instance, a donation of $500 or less is a "walk."
Kal-Tire and Daley and Co., already have hit "grand slams," while Wallace Upholstery hit a "home run."
There also is the opportunity to donate in-kind services, of which the committee already has secured a few.
Darryl Caunt of Mibroc Construction is donating his services as project manager, while Rob Lucas of Interior Iron Works Inc., also is helping out. John Demidoff of Demidoff Equipment Ltd., will do some of the groundwork, with Trevor Owen of Owen and Hunter providing architecture services.
The inside of the facility, once it has been constructed, will feature three full batting cages, pitching mounds and artificial turf.
Wandler said he is excited simply "to have the access to the two key elements of the sport, which are pitching and hitting."
"Right now," he added, "we're working out in elementary school gyms, and they're just not adequate, especially for my older guys."
KMBA's membership comprises 450 players between the ages of five and 18, all of whom will be able to take advantage of the new space.
"We've always been behind the Lower Mainland, because they've got a much longer playing season," said KMBA president Dean Martin. "For our young athletes, it gives them a chance to continue to develop, particularly at a young age."
Mayor Peter Milobar also spoke at yesterday's news conference, noting that the facility will be a "great community asset."
Wandler also called it a community facility, and said that there may be the opportunity for other groups - slo-pitch teams, craft fairs or flea markets - to use the space.
"We believe this is a community project that fills a void," Wandler said. "We are hoping the community will step up and help us get this building up and running."