KMBA's 'Field of Dreams' nearing completion

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
November 21, 2012 01:00 AM

It won't be long before that familiar crack of the bat results in echoes here in Kamloops.

It's not traditional baseball, but a new indoor facility will allow Kamloops Minor Baseball Association teams to practise any time of the year.

Sean Wandler, a KMBA director and chair of the building committee, said Tuesday that construction continues on the 5,000 square foot facility on McArthur Island.

Wandler, who also coaches the midget AAA RiverDogs, figures the project - deemed Kamloops' "Field of Dreams" - is about 80 per cent finished.

"It's getting close to completion," he said. "There are some finishing things we need to do, but we're hoping for a grand opening in January."

When the project was announced at a news conference in February, there was talk that the facility could be in use by the fall. It appears as though it will be January, or possibly even February.

For baseball people, there is no real hurry to get indoors - winterball sessions typically begin in January, at school gymnasiums around town.

"We never really had a plan . . . or any expectations to be in there in December," Wandler said. "If we had it early, that would be a bonus . . . but the true plan was January."

Wandler certainly doesn't mind waiting for the facility - he is one of many people in the baseball community who have been dreaming of an indoor "Field of Dreams" in Kamloops for years. The actual building will be 50 feet by 100 feet, with 20-foot ceilings, turf on the ground and netting on the walls, to protect from damage.

There also will be a winch system that will allow groups to raise or lower netting throughout the interior space.

As of right now, the turf and netting are the only things missing from the inside of the facility. It will be completed in January - "That's the earliest the guy can come in," Wandler said.

There also is some work to do with a storage area between the new structure and an existing washroom/concession facility. The area is 20 feet by 40 feet.

As for what's finished, Wandler is pleased.

"Oh, it's totally met our expectations," he said. "I would say . . . of all the baseball facilities in B.C., owned by associations . . . ours will be one of the best."

The cost of the facility is around $500,000, part of which has been taken care of by a $100,000 loan from the city. There also was a $75,000 grant - to be paid over five years - from the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society's Sports Legacy Fund, and various in-kind donations.

Wandler said fundraising has gone well.

"It cost almost a half-million dollars, and that's a pretty big accomplishment from a lot of people," Wandler said. "There's still some fundraising to be done. We have a loan with the city . . . and miscellaneous ends to tie up.

"But I'm really happy with where the fundraising ended up."

The KMBA hopes the facility's operating costs will be covered by fees raised from user groups - KMBA fees, along with other sports groups looking to rent. When the winches pull the netting up, the facility is simply a 5,000 square foot space, which can be used in a variety of fashions, for everything from craft shows to lawn bowling, indoor soccer or lacrosse.

"Now that it's standing and people see it up . . . it's a reality and there's some excitement generated," Wandler said. "There's so many things we can do there . . . it's going to be one of the best facilities around."

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