Saskatoon suspends sports field rentals until the end of June

Saskatoon says it will not be approving any sports field rentals until at least June 30.

Special events rentals are also suspended due to COVID-19

Sports fields across Saskatoon will be empty this spring after the city suspended any rentals through June 30. (Shutterstock)

Sports fields in Saskatoon are off-limits until the end of June.

The city says it will not be approving any sports field rentals until at least June 30.

It said the move follows the directive from the provincial government limiting the size of public and private gatherings, including outdoors, to a maximum of 10 people.

This will affect a wide variety of youth and adult sports leagues, including soccer, football, baseball and other sports.

"It's a bit of a tough pill to swallow," said Saskatoon Minor Football commissioner Brian Guebert.

"We were optimistic that we could operate this year on a modified season at the worst with the spring coming up, but obviously we have to put everybody's health and safety first.

"I don't think anybody was ready to use the words cancel until we knew somebody in another position made that decision for us. And now that the city has we can start moving forward in that direction."

Guebert said they have been going over all types of hypothetical situations.

"We have gone through every permutation, combination you can imagine to figure out how to best serve our members and keep kids active and healthy," he said.

Guebert said they were looking at the largest participation on record with about 2,000 kids registered in the various leagues.

Now they are developing a cancellation policy and will be in communication with all of their members within the next week, he said.

In the meantime, Guebert said, they are sending out training programs the kids can do at home and other projects like designing jerseys to keep football interest alive.

"[Football] is a part of a lot of family cultures too," he said. "Certainly that's something we want to continue to foster any way we can and hopefully we will get better in spite of not being together."

Saskatoon Youth Soccer still hoping for summer play

Saskatoon Youth Soccer executive director Amanda Probe said in an email that youth soccer is suspended until they get further direction from federal authorities and Canada Soccer.

Probe said any decisions on the outdoor season won't be made until later next week.

However, she said they still hope to have some soccer this summer.

"Saskatoon Youth Soccer Inc. has a free drop-in Soccer Kids In the Park travelling program, which we hope to run for its 13th summer, and we are also looking at alternative soccer programming options," Probe said.

"We are fortunate to have access to the soccer centres for fields, so if government authorities and Canada Soccer lift restrictions prior to July 1, we could potentially offer programming within the centres in the absence of city sports fields."

Summer softball?

The Saskatoon Minor Softball League (SMSL) was supposed to start its season at the beginning of May.

They're still hoping an abbreviated season can begin sometime this summer.

 "Right now we are in the process of hoping we can get on the diamond maybe in July or August," said SMSL president  Vanessa Kosteroski.

She said they are looking at possibly a July-August or even a August-September season.

The league had its team trials early this year before the pandemic hit so they are ready to play, Kosteroski said.

"It's just a matter of now they haven't had any practice time together. That makes it a little more difficult, a little more challenging."

The Saskatoon Angels softball team travelled to Pleasantville, Newfoundland to play the Kitchener Cubs, in white, in 2016. (Carolyn Stokes/CBC)

The city will also not be approving any outdoor special events during the same time period.

The Civic Pancake Breakfast, scheduled for June 11 in front of City Hall, has been postponed.

As the holiday long weekend approaches, the provincial government is advising people to be prepared to celebrate Easter in a different way this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of inviting family and friends over for dinner, host a virtual gathering using digital technology.

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