Saskatoon cricket players want more space

The Saskatoon Cricket Association says growing immigration means the city needs more cricket pitches.

Growing immigrant population creates crowding

A cricket player in Saskatoon takes in a practice match at the city's Forestry Farm. (David Shield, CBC)

The Saskatoon Cricket Association is asking city council to build new cricket pitches, or fields, in the city.

It says right now there is only one pitch in the entire city and the association argues that's not enough.

In the past five years, the number of cricket teams in the city has grown significantly.

And that's put a major strain on the only place to play in town.

"People can drive from all over the city to come to this one facility," said association President Iftekhar Kalyar. "And again, we have to share with the other groups and we're also paying rent for the field too."

Kalyar says many immigrant families live in west-side neighbourhoods, far away from the current pitch at Saskatoon's Forestry Farm, making access difficult.

Despite those troubles, people are finding places to play, though they aren't ideal.

"People are playing in basketball courts or baseball grounds, and there isn't a definite cricket pitch there," says cricket player Raza Naqvi. "We definitely need something like that there. Another ground, at least, in Saskatoon."

Saskatoon city council is paying attention to the issue. Ward Seven councillor Mairin Loewen says many people have contacted her, asking for help in building new facilities.

Loewen says the growing interest in the sport is driven by a growing number of immigrants from countries where people love cricket.

"The city's changing and becoming more diverse," Loewen said. "And, as people move to Saskatoon from other parts of the country or other parts of the world, people's interests change and we have new activities happening."

City council has asked administration to look into the issue and report back.