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Diamond changes get thumbs up

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The north diamond at the St. Francis Sportsfield is about to become a crown jewel of local baseball.

Town council agreed June 9 to finance improvements to the field, converting it to baseball regulation standards.

The town still needs to get two additional written quotes from companies bidding for the project, but those should be in sometime this week—with the work scheduled to begin almost immediately after.

Community Services manager George Bell said the changes, which should take about five days to complete and most likely won’t affect the local slo-pitch league’s schedule, will return the field to the way it was supposed to be all along.

“It was originally scheduled to be both a softball and baseball field,” said Bell, who estimated the cost of the changes at roughly $15,000.

“It’s good to see baseball coming back there. Hopefully, it will flourish.”

Plans for the changes came to life last fall when the Fort Frances Minor Baseball Association applied for provincial funding from both the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. and the Trillium Fund.

When that proved unsuccessful, the wheels were set in motion for eventual approval from town council.

Association spokesman Dave Sande said the revamping of the diamond will be a significant benefit to young baseball players in the area.

“It’s hard to play hardball if you don’t have a diamond that fits specifications,” said Sande. “It’s a step in the right direction.

“We’ve got a ways to go,” he added, citing future plans for such additions as a proper warning track and sponsorship signs on the outfield fence. “But we do appreciate the mayor and the councillors doing this for us.

“We would like to see more changes, but we’re also aware of the budget constraints that council is under,” Sande added.

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