British Columbia

B.C. stadium used to host national Indigenous fastball tournament damaged in suspicious fire

An organizer of the Canadian Native Fastball Tournament in Prince George says the fire seriously damaged the concession stand and broadcast area behind home plate, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage.

Concession stand, broadcast area at Spruce City Stadium in Prince George badly damaged: tournament organizer

More than 900 players in multiple age categories took part in the 2022 Canadian Native Fastball Championship in Prince George from July 31 to Aug. 1. On Aug. 3, RCMP received a report of fire at the stadium, which is now being investigated as arson. (Chuck Chin)

A piece of Indigenous baseball history in Prince George, B.C., suffered serious damage in a fire that RCMP are investigating as an arson. 

Police said they received a report of a fire at Spruce City Stadium, located at 2210 Massey Dr., at around 5 a.m. PT Wednesday.

The stadium is best known as home of the Canadian Native Fastball Championships, an annual tournament that attracts more than 1,000 players and fans from Indigenous communities across the country. 

The 2022 tournament was played last weekend after a two-year break due to COVID-19 and hosted 50 teams in multiple age categories for men and women. In past years, up to 80 teams have taken part in the event. 

Groundskeeper Peter Ghostkeeper views the damage done to a fire in the concession stand and broadcasting centre of Spruce City Stadium in Prince George, B.C. Ghostkeeper says some key equipment used to run the stadium was also destroyed in the fire, which is being investigated as a possible arson by RCMP. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

'It's just ashes'

Harley Desjarlais, one of the tournament's organizers, said the fire seriously damaged the concession stand and broadcast area behind home plate. He described the structure as "essentially the nerve centre of our stadium."

"Thankfully, it didn't burn any of our stands, but we're incapable of having lights and scoreboards and electricity and power for that matter too," he said. "So it's really devastated our ability to have fastball here."

Peter Ghostkeeper, who has looked after the park for more than two decades, said the structure dates back to the mid-'70s.

"It's just ashes now," he said. "So we have to rebuild. And we'll do that. This ballpark is really important to the community."

Police say a fire that damaged part of Spruce City Stadium in Prince George, B.C., is being investigated as an arson. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

RCMP say they are investigating the fire as an act of arson. In addition to the fire, two large Bluetooth speakers were stolen from the concession stand.

Desjarlais said damages are estimated at around $100,000. The emotional toll from the fire, he said, is harder to quantify. 

"A lot of people grew up in this place as kids, played minor ball here, watch their dads play, watch their grandpas play," he said. "Even though it's just a structure, I think the attachment that a lot of the people feel to this place is just beyond any price tag."

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Prince George RCMP.

With files from Nadia Mansour and Andrew Kurjata

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