Long-awaited funds hit a home run for baseball fields in Arctic Bay and Whale Cove
Jays Care Foundation to cover the cost of finishing the fields in two Nunavut communities
After years of chasing funds to get Arctic Bay's baseball field finished, Thomas Levi is celebrating a win.
Levi, the Nunavut community's recreation co-ordinator, found out this week that one of his many applications for grants got approved. The Jays Care Foundation — the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays — will be giving Arctic Bay about $46,000 to put in some baseball turf, benches for players and stands for spectators.
"Everyone will be welcome to this baseball field — kids, adults, anybody that wants to play baseball. Everyone is welcome," Levi said.
Arctic Bay and Whale Cove are two of the communities the foundation is giving funds to this year through its Field of Dreams program. Levi said the money is especially important for Arctic Bay because he has spent years trying to get the project funded — efforts that have been stalled by COVID-19.
"I was really happy, because COVID's been a tough situation to deal with. To get approval for this type of funding, I was really happy to hear that we were approved," he said.
We're proud to announce more than $1.2 million in funding for community baseball infrastructure across Canada!<br><br>Congratulations to our 2022 Field Of Dreams grant recipients 💙 <a href="https://t.co/poc9JC6rnk">pic.twitter.com/poc9JC6rnk</a>—@JaysCare
Levi said the money for Arctic Bay will help bring four workers from Synthetic Turf International to come up to the community and finish the field there.
"Arctic Bay is not a flat town, and the only area that is flat enough to build a baseball field is near the mountain area," Levi explained. That area is still close to the community, and is currently marked by poles.
His hope is to have the field finished for August. Since the gym, community hall and arena close down for the spring and summer months, he said the field will benefit children and adults once it's completed.
Levi said the total project for Arctic Bay will cost about $55,000. Funding from the hamlet will cover the remainder of the cost.
For Whale Cove, recreation coordinator Gordon Jr. Okalik said the $16,000 they will get from the Jays Care Foundation will help install a backstop this summer. Next year, the hamlet aims to install fences.
"I was happy, excited — I didn't expect to get the funding from Blue Jays, which is really good for the community," he said.
The current baseball field is just gravel, he added, but the upgrades will open up new possibilities.
"Hopefully over the years, we will start having baseball tournaments where we invite communities to come and play. That's what I am hoping," he said.