Thursday, 5 September 2019

Gordie Howe Sports Complex revamp in home stretch

Premier Scott Moe speaks at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
    Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe hopes the revamp of the Gordie Howe Sports Complex will clean up an oversight.
    The 46-year-old product of Shellbrook was speaking at a press conference at the Saskatoon sports facility on Wednesday, and he told a story about playing in a fastball provincials at the complex, when he was growing up.
    Moe’s team was down by one in the bottom of the seventh inning with two runners on and two outs. One run was need to force and extra inning and two runs were needed to win.  If his team won, the squad would go to nationals.
    “A pitch came in, and I got a hold of it,” said Moe. “It was going out to right field and went to the warning track, and it was just five feet short from clearing the fence and us going on to nationals.
    “I think it is quite obvious this being Phase 3 of the renos at Gordie Howe Bowl that I hope that if it wasn’t fixed in Phase 1 or Phase 2 that the right field fence on Diamond 1 is obviously 10-feet too far. I would hope in Phase 3 that would certainly be rectified.”
    Politicians from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government were on hand to confirm funding that will help finish the massive renovations going on at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex in Saskatoon’s Holiday Park neighbourhood. The complex is in a final Phase 3 of a master plan.
    The federal government will be contributing just over $8.352-million, the provincial government $6.959-million and municipal contribution is slated for $5.568-million. The Friends of the Bowl Foundation will be fundraising the municipal contribution with the goal of hitting $6-million to cover any unforeseen expenses.
Federal minister Jonathan Wilkinson speaks at Wednesday’s presser.
     Friends of the Bowl, which is a not-for-profit corporation with initial roots dating back to 2011, was formed for the purpose of advocating and raising funds for the sports facility and has done just that.
    “The expansion involves adding a new multi-sport complex, an outdoor artificial turf field, an outdoor baseball training and practice complex, Nordic ski trails, as well as a new ticket booth and bleachers,” said former Saskatoon resident Jonathan Wilkinson, who is the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. “This project will have far reaching impacts not only for residents who will benefit from these modern sport and fitness facilities, but also for the city as a whole.
    “These new spaces will provide new opportunities to host a wide variety of events, which will help promote tourism in the area and events and services available to families in this community.”
    The announcement on Wednesday officially gave funding to 12 different infrastructure projects across Saskatchewan including the Gordie Howe Sports Complex through the Integrated Bilateral Agreement. Dignitaries were on hand representing various communities that will benefit from these projects.
Bryan Kosteroski gets set to speak at Wednesday’s presser.
    Overall, Wednesday’s announcement provided a function where members of all three levels of government could bask in the spotlight with positive news. It marked a short and happy time for celebration.
    For those that have overseen the developments at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex over the long haul like Friends of the Bowl chairperson Bryan Kosteroski and board member Johnny Marciniuk, Wednesday’s announcement was a big reward for countless hours of hard work. Kosteroski reflected on part of that journey during his speech at the presser.
    “Going back eight years to now, this project has been in our hearts,” said Kosteroski. “The partnerships and the collaborations we have seen and the growth of partnerships and people working together in Saskatoon has been tremendous.
    “There are nine sporting organizations working together right now. That is unheard of. If you would have said eight-and-a-half years ago that softball would be talking to baseball or football would be talking with lacrosse, that is unheard of.
    “Now, it is a common thing. It is like we are family. Everybody works together.”
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark speaks at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
    Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark recalls getting constant comments that dumped on the facility eight years ago, when he sitting with the Saskatoon city government as a city councillor.
    “We had delegation after delegation come to the city and say the field sucks, the dressing rooms suck (and) the stands suck,” said Clark. “Basically, it was getting beat down, because there was so much football being played at this facility, and players are getting injured and we’re embarrassed.
    “To be honest, it took a few starts to even get things going.”
    Clark enjoys seeing the progress that has been made since that time.
    “It is an incredible thing for kids to be able to have access to this,” said Clark. “We look forward to hosting kids from across the province and across the country and top class athletes to put on great performances and to help inspire the next generation and to build sport in our community.”
    Moe touted that the provincial government was pleased to play a part in revamping the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
    “The Government of Saskatchewan is proud to be on the funding team alongside the Government of Canada and alongside the local community,” said Moe. “When completed, this project will surely live up to the Howe’s namesake, whose iconic #9 has been memorialized in the logo of the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.”
Greg Yuel speaks at Wednesday’s press conference.
    Originally when the revamp got rolling in 2011, the hope was to refurbish Gordie Howe Bowl, which was an eyesore. The refurbishment began on that facility in 2014, and it was renamed Saskatoon Minor Football Field.
    The success on that front created momentum to get the wheel in motion on improving the rest of the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
    When the master plan of the complex in complete, a total of $62-million will have been put into renovating and improving the complex. As of July of last year, $42-million was raised towards that goal.
    Greg Yuel, who is the chairperson of the fundraising committee for Friends of the Bowl, was pumped at how close Wednesday’s funding announcement gets the project into the home stretch.
    “It is a game changer for all youth and athletes across Canada,” said Yuel. “This is huge milestone in our campaign.
    “It isn’t done yet. We have a few more million to go before we finish it off and put a ribbon on it. Please don’t hesitate to tell your family and friends and reach into your own pockets and help us finish this off.”
Various dignitaries pose for a photo at Wednesday’s press conference.
    If anyone wants to still get in with a donation to refurbish the Gordie Howe Sports Complex, they can do so by clicking right here.

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