There’s an empty field sitting next to the new Fire Hall No. 1 in Carrie Jane Gray Park that used to be a baseball diamond.
It was known as Carrie Jane Gray Ball Field and used by the Prince George Youth Baseball Association (PGYBA) for the 15U division. The field was dismantled to make way for the construction of the fire hall.
“When it came time to build the new fire hall the city of Prince George told us they would need a large part of the footprint here so they had to take the ball field down and who can argue with that — nothing is more important than the fire department,” said Frank Peebles, PGYBA president. “But we were delighted to see at the end of the construction of the fire hall, that the footprint left over was still well within our measurements for putting in a proper 15U ball field.”
PGYBA’s board of directors formally sent a letter to mayor and council as well as staff and administration at the city on Dec. 31, 2021, requesting that Carrie Jane Gray Baseball Field be re-established in the spot it occupied.
It also requested that this be done in consultation with the PGYBA organization regarding orientation and measurements of the playing area.
However, Peebles noted that since that letter was sent PGYBA is still waiting for an answer from the city.
“We got a resounding silence,” said Peebles.
He said the field is particularly needed because there isn’t a single 15U field in town and that age group is currently playing on ill-fitting ball fields that don't allow for proper skills development.
Having a 15U-sized field at that location, with dimensions that conform to Baseball Canada regulations, would also allow PGYBA to host tournaments and training events for that age group.
“We would like to do more than just hold our own, we would like to host provincials here,” said Peebles. b“We would like to host northern B.C. training camps, we would like to host all kinds of things, but we can’t do it without the facilities, and since this was a facility that was used for that purpose, we don’t see another reason why it shouldn’t be used as that kind of facility again.”
The field in question is located directly across from Rotary Field, which is built for 18U but has provisions built into it so it can be used by 15U players, despite its size.
“If you have two side-by-side, now we can host major events here, we can host the provincials, we can host the nationals — there’s nothing we couldn’t do with two 15U fields side by side sharing the same amenities and the same parking lot.”
He noted having a 15U field once again would not only help local players learn how to play outfield properly, but the potential of hosting events would also mean a positive economic impact for the city.
“We can’t host events here because they won’t come to a place that doesn’t have the facilities and that is just kissing away hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in local economic injection.”
Peebles noted that despite the silence on this issue, PGYBA is still optimistic about the return of the 15U filed and is looking forward to having further discussions with the city.
“We know there are a lot of priorities all the time and we would like to get our voice in there and be heard that’s all,” added Peebles.
“It is screaming out to be put back to the way it was and then we can start doing the things we know Prince George can do. We can’t do everything in this town, but we can play baseball. We are very good at building baseball players, so let’s do this right.”
When asked for comment, the City of Prince George stated there are no plans for the future of the old field site.