Jays legend Roberto Alomar joins fight to keep Edmonton ballpark from demolition

The Hall-of-Fame second baseman wrote a letter to Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson after hearing that the 9,200-seat park may be demolished some day to make room for future redevelopment.

 

Roberto Alomar, shown in this 2016 file photo, wrote in his letter that baseball is on the upswing in Alberta, due largely to organizations such as the Edmonton Prospects that work with local players and coaches to improve their skills.  (FRANK GUNN / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By The Canadian Press

Tues., March 13, 2018

EDMONTON—A baseball legend who helped the Toronto Blue Jays capture back-to-back World Series titles in the early 1990s is stepping up to the plate to try to keep Edmonton’s river valley ballpark from the wrecker’s ball.

Hall-of-Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar has written a letter to Edmonton’s mayor and city council after hearing that the 9,200-seat park may be demolished some day to make room for future redevelopment in the neighbourhood where it’s located.

Alomar offered to write the letter when he spoke last month at a fundraising dinner for the Edmonton Prospects, a collegiate summer team that plays in the Western Major Baseball League, and learned the facility’s days may be numbered.

Mayor Don Iveson says the ballpark, situated next to the North Saskatchewan River, is not in any immediate danger of being torn down.

The Prospects hold a lease on the stadium for at least the next two seasons.

A report outlining potential options for the area in which it sits is expected to come before city council near the end of this year or early next year.

Alomar wrote in his letter that baseball is on the upswing in Alberta, due largely to organizations such as the Prospects that work with local players and coaches to improve their skills.

He said the ballpark — once home to championship-winning Triple A baseball teams — inspires kids throughout Western Canada by showing them they can have a chance to play in front of thousands of fans who respect their skill and accomplishments.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this ballpark for baseball in Alberta and, more importantly, how devastating it would be to the baseball community and the many young players if it were demolished,” he penned.

Iveson said Alomar’s letter isn’t necessary right now, but he plans to keep the former major-leaguer in the loop.

“Attendance numbers (for Prospects games) are coming up and that’s very positive. We’re still an awful long way from a sustainable cost model there. The ballpark is aging and it’s going to require a lot of investment,” he said.

Jordan Blundell, the Prospects’ assistant general manager, said any decision on the ballpark is years down the road and the team is planning to play there long term. He also said when Alomar offers to volunteer on your behalf, you don’t say no.

“It kind of falls in line with what he’s doing now as a baseball philanthropist, teacher and builder.”

A statement posted Tuesday to the team’s website from managing partner Pat Cassidy said the Prospects are pleased with Iveson’s comments, but they “want to clarify that our concerns emanate from city administration comments that three or four concept plans may go to council by year’s end and one may not include the ballpark

Here is the official statement from Managing Partner Pat Cassidy about the River Crossing Project dictating the future of RE/MAX Field:

"The Edmonton Prospects are pleased with comments from Mayor Iveson and Peter Ohm about RE/MAX Field but want to clarify that our concerns emanate from City Administration comments that 3 or 4 concept plans may go to Council by years end and one may not include ballpark."

Roberto Alomar Pens Letter To Edmonton Mayor To Keep RE/MAX Field
By Len Nunes

“There is a proposal, I am told, by certain developers in this town to demolish the ballpark and build condos in its place,” said Prospects Managing Partner Pat Cassidy.

The wonderful memories of the Edmonton Prospects Gala  on February 24th still sit front and center in the minds of all who attended. Keynote speaker Roberto Alomar made good on his promise to the Prospects owners and fans by penning a letter to Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson.

Alomar wrote the letter as an effort to make sure our beautiful park does not fall victim to the “wrecking ball” treatment. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

“I (Alomar) am very pleased with the ever improving quality of baseball in Alberta along with the enthusiasm and passion that I encounter wherever I go. Not only is the upswing of baseball in Alberta a result of the recent success of the Blue Jays, it is also largely due to organizations such as the Edmonton Prospects who work with local grassroots baseball league players and coaches to help improve their skills. This is essential in providing a very important link and catalyst in a chain that can aid Canadian Athletes to the next level.

The recently renamed RE/MAX Field is an important Centre of Excellence for aspiring baseball players. It provides a showcase venue to not only demonstrate skills and talents, but to inspire hundreds of thousands of kids throughout Western Canada by showing them that they too can have that opportunity to play in front of thousands of fans who respect their skill and accomplishments.

While at the Gala the Prospects Owner, Mr. Patrick Cassidy, spoke passionately about this being a critical year for the ballpark as the City of Edmonton is in the midst of determining its long-term fate through its River Crossing Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP) project.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this ballpark for baseball in Alberta and, more importantly, how devastating it would be to the baseball community and the many young players if it were demolished.”

Your Edmonton Prospects have been to back-to-back WMBL Championship Series but have fallen just short of their ultimate goal.  Failure to convince Edmonton City council to keep the ballpark is not an option.

“I say we can’t let this happen, and it is our responsibility and mission – and when I say our mission, I mean anyone and everyone who cares about baseball, the river valley and the future of both. We simply can’t let this happen.”  Another quote from Prospects Managing Partner Pat Cassidy, who has been proud of the steady growth of the Prospects over the past few years while playing out of the lovely downtown ballpark.

The Prospects are already selling spots in their annual Kids Camp held every July where coaches and players of the Edmonton Prospects teach kids baseball techniques.  The smoothly run Kids Camp reports  higher enrollment with each passing season.

 Are you asking yourself what you can do to help? Aside from the obvious answer of coming to as many games as possible, be vocal and proud about the games you do attend. We are in a social media age, share your pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If Roberto Alomar wrote a letter to the Mayor, you can too.

Raise your voice! Be proud of that our City has a beautiful baseball park and let everyone know that Edmonton deserves to keep it!

The Edmonton Prospects have once again made it to the Final Series after beating out the Medicine Hat Mavericks for the Western Conference title Thursday night.

The Swift Current 57s came back from a 2-0 series deficit to earn another trip to the Western Major Baseball League Championship Series with a 6-4 win over the Weyburn Beavers Friday.

The reigning WMBL Champion 57's will take on our Edmonton Prospects in the Best-of-5 Championship Series starting Sunday & Monday night at 7pm (August 13 & 14) in Swift Current.  The series comes back to Edmonton Tuesday night & Wednesday night (if necessary)  at 7pm.  The 5th game, if necessary would be played in Swift Current.