Miracle Field plan delays development proposal for old Riverside Arena site

City staff are recommending a massive mixed-use development for the east-end site, located between Raymond Avenue and Wyandotte Street. But that type of development would ignore a plan by the Riverside Minor Baseball Association to build a new park where the old arena once stood.

City staff want to redevelop the old Riverside Arena site, making room for commercial and residential spaces

Riverside Minor Baseball Association president Bill Kell at city council Monday when politicians decided to delay its development decision for the old Riverside Arena site. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

Windsor city council has postponed its plans to redevelop the old Riverside Arena site in order to review a community group's proposal to build a new baseball park on the property. 

City staff recommended a massive mixed-use development for the east-end site, located between Raymond Avenue and Wyandotte Street East, but that plan was put on hold at Monday's council meeting in order to work with the Riverside Minor Baseball Association, which wants to build a new park where the old arena once stood. 

The park would be called Miracle Field and it would include a paved diamond designed for people in wheelchairs and other accessibility issues.

Association president Bill Kell is pleased with council's decision to delay its development decision, saying his group is eager to work with staff to include the new park in any development. 

"I think this is a fair decision," he said. "We have to let them digest our plan and maybe have them come back with a decision to let the association lease the park."

Surprised ballpark not considered

Heading into council's meeting, staff had recommended rezoning the land to make way for a residential and commercial mixed-use development. 

Tom Laporte, who is on the committee spearheading plans for Miracle Field, was surprised to see the city's proposal did not include the new ballpark, considering plans have been in the works for years. 

"We were surprised to learn the city wants to develop and sell off the old Riverside Arena site," he said. "We are already a good way there and we believe we can make it happen."

Tom Laporte of Riverside Minor Baseball Association. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The association submitted a business plan to the city Friday, outlining more details about a proposal to lease the property for 25 years. Construction of a Miracle Field is estimated at $1.8 million. The association has so far raised more than $600,000.

Laporte hoped the plan would be enough to convince Ward 6 Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac to support construction of a new park. Gignac recommended the delay during Monday's meeting, convincing her fellow politicians to work with the baseball association.

"We believe that business plan says it all," he said. "We believe once Coun. Gignac and the other councillors read it, we'll be off to the races."