As soon as the weather turns, construction of a new state-of-the-art baseball stadium will begin in Dorchester, Ontario.
Located at the Field of Dreams site on Hamilton Road, the artificial-surface field will be the new home of amateur organization Great Lake Canadians (GLC), with additional use available for Dorchester Minor Baseball (DMB).
“We’re hoping to be there in mid-July,” says Chris Robinson, a Dorchester native and COO of GLC.
Renderings show a room that will hold 400 seats, including 100 with VIP chair backs. The stadium will have 50-foot-long dugouts, a large batting eye, grassed enclosures and a batting tunnel.
Any additional amenities will be dependent on funds raised by the GLC program.A rendering of the new state-of-the-art ballpark coming to Dorchester, Ontario. in the summer of 2022. The site will include 400 seats, a grass field, as well as grass bullpens and a batting tunnel. (Source: Great Lakes Canadians)
With many connections in the game, GLC owners Adam Stern and Robinson have teamed up with the Toronto Blue Jays to secure the former Rogers Center playing surface which was replaced in 2021.
“We knew there was something of a void with artificial turf fields in Ontario and especially for the high-performance kids who have worked so hard to get to where they are now,” says TJ Burton, Director of Baseball amateur with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“When we started reaching out to some partners through our Jays Care Foundation, we focused on the project in Dorchester. Being a turf designed for Major League Baseball, we felt it was important to be on a surface where high performance CPBL [Canadian Premier Baseball League] baseball was going to be played.
The grass pitch will allow teams to play earlier in the spring and later in the fall since there is no frost buildup below the surface.
The Great Lake Canadians U-18 baseball team practices at Centrefield Sports in London, Ontario. on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. The new stadium in Dorchester, Ont. will be the headquarters of the elite amateur baseball organization. (Brent Lale/CTV News)“I’ve been trying to run a big pre-draft showcase tournament, I think five years in a row and we haven’t had a full tournament from start to finish yet because of the weather,” says Robinson.
“Now that it opens up the opportunity when it stops raining you can go play on the grass. We’ve also had winters where in mid-February if you have a good Saturday we could be out there using it,” he adds.
The project is funded by the Municipality of Thames Centre, which will add another baseball field to the five soccer fields at the outdoor recreation complex.
“When Great Lake’s approached the Blue Jays and got a foothold, it was worth $400,000,” says Alison Warwick, mayor of Thames Centre.
“In this partnership, Thames Center has committed $2.8 million, which comes directly from development charges through growth. Growth is therefore a very good thing for everyone in this field. We are really excited to use this money because it was always designed to be a top notch sporting facility and it looks like it will be,” she adds.
GLC players agree. Curtis McKay is a Dorchester native who plays for the GLC U-18 team, who calls it a “dream come true” to have this venue five minutes from his home.
He believes this type of stadium will put the town of just over 4,000 people on the map for Ontario baseball circles.
The old artificial turf at the Rogers Center in Toronto, Ontario. is located at the outdoor recreation complex in Dorchester, Ontario. It will serve as the surface for the new stadium under construction in 2022. (Brent Lale/CTV News) “You can see it can accommodate a lot of people and with the relievers and the batting cages too and it’s just, it really does feel like it’s kind of a big league or college atmosphere.” , explains McKay. “When people come here, they will get the best of the best.”
Adding a second court will also help the development of players like McKay in the GLC program which has sent 16 players to the pros and more than 100 to college.
“We’re completely excited about the existing terrain there,” Robinson says. “Dorchester Minor Baseball is also growing, so trying to fit everyone on one pitch becomes very difficult. Some of the opportunities are endless when it comes to hosting national events, hosting national team training camps, and all the things we look forward to doing with some of our in-game contacts. »
DMB is set to host a league championship, as well as an Ontario Baseball Association championship this summer. Robinson plans to be able to use both fields, which will eventually require less use of high-end fields in London, St. Marys and Exeter.
“I know football people are looking over our shoulder saying, ‘How did you do that? “, Says Robinson.
“It’s a big facility and it’s a big sports city. With everything we’ve been through in the past two years, the council and the township have been so amazing to step up and say our kids need to get out,” he adds.