Warmer weather in Yellowknife can mean different things to different people.
It can mean the start of extended walks along the Frame Lake Trail, swimming in Long Lake or working on your golf game on a course that has virtually no vegetation.
But as we approach mid-May, the city’s avid fastball community is reminded that a new season is right around the corner.
Ballparks throughout the community will soon become meeting grounds for players and spectators alike and friendly rivalries will be renewed.
But this year has the potential to be something different as it could be the last time players compete on a grassless surface at Tommy Forrest Ball Park.
In a Facebook post last week, the Yellowknife Fastball Association announced a series of exciting changes that will be coming to Yellowknife’s ballpark on Franklin Avenue over the next three years.
The first, and most major, change will see the field seeded at season’s end in August.
Over the next two years, community fastball officials also hope to rebuild the Tommy Forrest Facility and surround the field with additional greenspace for family use.
The aim of the new project, entitled NewLife4Tommy, is to re-establish the ball park as the heart of Yellowknife’s fastball community.
“It’s somewhat uncommon to have a ball diamond like that in the heart of the community,” Mayor Mark Heyck told Moose FM.
“It’s well used in the summertime and now that we’ve got skating in the area in the winter, it’s well used in the wintertime as well.
“It’ll be nice to see it spruced up even more than that and to really serve the community as a public amenity.”
The announced upgrades come after the Yellowknife Fastball Association secured $60,000 from the city for the project last December.
Heyck says the city plans to work closely with the fastball community to ensure the ballpark is given new life.
“I think there will be further discussions as we go along,” he said. “The initial iteration for this year is mostly looking at getting the grass planted following the season so we’ll have to see how the plans progress and what other resources can be brought to the table.
“The amount of work that’s been put into planning already is a testament to how committed some of the residents and the city are to fastball and ballparks in general.
“One of the great things about YK fastball is that they’ve always invested a ton of their own sweat equity into doing the work and maintaining the parks so we’re putting in $60,000 but that’ll certainly leverage a much greater value into Tommy Forrest.”
How can you help?
Drew Williams is with the Yellowknife Fastball Association. He’s hopeful the project will breathe new life into the ballpark and Yellowknife’s fastball community at large.
“What a lot of people might not remember is that, for Yellowknifers, the Tommy Forrest Ball Park was a uniting and electrifying hub for a lot of us growing up.
“It was very much a community field and a centralizing facility. That’s gone away in recent years but there’s this core group of ball players that don’t necessarily think it needs to.
“It can be the centre of Yellowknife again and it probably should be. This is a big project, it will take three or four years but we want to start this year and we want to start by putting grass in the outfield.
“If you looked on it five years from now in the middle of summer hopefully you’ll see a ball game going on, some kids playing on the playground off to the side and of course the bleachers filled with folks enjoying the sun and enjoying a ball game.”
Williams says residents can get behind the NewLife4Tommy project by taking part in a car raffle.
The Yellowknife Fastball Association has teamed up with YK Motors to give away a car during fastball playoffs in August.
Williams says the association is looking to sell 2,500 tickets at $20 each to support Tommy Forrest restoration efforts.
The winner will be announced on August 9 at the field.
To find out how you can help out with fundraising, check out the NewLife4Tommy Facebook page.