News / Regina

Regina's Optimist Park celebrates 50 years of baseball

Host to countless tournaments and minor-league games over the years, Regina Optimist Baseball Park is marking its 50th anniversary with a birthday bash this week.

On Saturday, Mayor Michael Fougere, provincial cabinet minister Christine Tell and other boosters will commemorate the facility during a special celebration, free to the public.

“Our celebration ceremony will start at 6 p.m. (and) we’ll be having cake and some baseball,” said Wendy Mitchell, vice-president of the Regina Optimist Baseball Association, which runs the facility and provides most of its capital funding.

“We’re trying to get many people out to the park for that evening to show some support.”

The ceremony will also act as a kick-off for this weekend’s provincial midget baseball championship, one of many top-tier competitions hosted at the Dewdney Avenue field every year.

The families and players flocking to the park — which hosted a children’s baseball camp run by the major-league Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 — provide a crucial boost to Regina’s tourism industry, Mitchell said.

“It generates a lot of tourism because you get people coming from all over Canada,” she said. “They’re staying at hotels, seeing the sights of the city.”

Construction of the park was completed in 1963 after the City of Regina agreed to terms with the local Optimist Club — an international charity dedicated to improving the lives of young people.

The Optimist Club continues to maintain the facility with an all-volunteer staff, except for a seasonally employed, full-time groundskeeper.

Park association vice-president Brian Rankin said the group deserves praise for its stewardship and financial support of the facility.

“Regina should pay honour to the Optimist Club and all the money they spent in 50 years on this park,” he said.

“Help us in thanking them for doing it, because it really fills a need.”

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