The Field of Dreams will have its opening day Sept. 16 after four years of blood, sweat and tears to get the regulation-sized and fully accessible ball diamond ready for players.
The dream to build the $503,000 baseball field and facility got its start in 2017 with a $150,000 donation from the Blue Jays Care Foundation. Since then, a combination of donations from the Province, Jumpstart, the Town of Black Diamond and fundraising has funded the construction of the field, accessible dugouts, a washroom, a parking lot and pathways.
Shirley Puttock, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Foothills CEO, said seeing young baseball players out on the field is going to be an exciting moment.
“It’s pretty thrilling,” Puttock said.
The field is located on the south side of Highway 22 between Black Diamond and Turner Valley.
For the next 10 years there is no fee for youth to use the field and Puttock said adults’ fees will be used to pay for the maintenance of the facility.
Tasha Greening, vice-president of the Oilfields Sports Association, said the field will help local youth play more often in their own community.
“For games in previous years we have had to play home games in Millarville because the field in Turner Valley was being used,” Greening said.
Prior to COVID, the popularity of baseball was growing, Greening said. The number of teams increased from two to five, with players from ages five to 15. The Oilfields Sports Association also has t-ball for younger children. They play in a league with Millarville, High River and Davisburg.
The diamond behind the Flare n’ Derrick was the only available field for youth and adult baseball in High Country because schools were not renting out their fields. The Oilfields Sports Association baseball season ended this summer and Greening said she doesn’t know if school fields will be available next year and the Field of Dreams will help fill a gap.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s going to provide more opportunities to have fields closer to home.”
Puttock said Boys and Girls Clubs located in Black Diamond, Turner Valley, High River, Eden Valley and Nanton will also be using the new diamond.
“They have extended an open door to the youth and adults,” said Joel Edey, Eden Valley wellness co-ordinator. “Baseball is very cherished and loved in Eden Valley.”
He said while the opportunity to use the Field of Dreams is exciting, the youth need equipment and transportation in order to compete in a league.
“A possible future goal is to be able to play sports against teams in the surrounding areas,” Edey said. “The sky’s the limit on what the field will offer for local players."
The Eden Valley Boys and Girls Club will take youth to opening day and to use the field for games.
Puttock said the Boys and Girls Club works with their members to make it possible for everyone to play baseball.
“Every kid will be able to play and fees won’t be a barrier,” she said.
The Boys and Girls Clubs will seek out sponsors for jerseys and equipment, she said, and Jumpstart is also available for children who need help with any other fees.
Seeing kids playing on the Field of Dreams is a moment Puttock has been looking forward to for four years. Fundraising, the presence of protected animals and a worldwide pandemic delayed the opening for three years.
An opening ceremony will be held Sept. 16 at 4 p.m., followed by a barbecue.
Eventually the Town of Black Diamond’s parks and recreation department will be managing the bookings for Field of Dreams, but for now users can call Puttock at 403-470-0521 to book the field.