WATCH ABOVE: Moncton may soon be home to the Maritimes’ first custom-made baseball field for children with special needs. Global’s Shelley Steeves reports.
MONCTON – The hub city may soon become home to the Maritimes’ first custom-made baseball field for children with special needs.
The “Field of Dreams” ball team, supported by Moncton’s senior baseball team the “Fisher Cats,” is looking to build its very own field of dreams says the Cats’ Bench Coach Greg Hickox.
“The city has been great and given a field to use but I think if we had a more stable surface it would be great for all involved,” he said.
Field of Dreams is Moncton’s baseball team for kids with different abilities. It’s a team of kids, aged five to 18, who have a passion for play.
Charline Allain says the Fields of Dreams team was started six years ago.
“What we are trying to do is get these kids into a team environment and basically be the same as able bodies. So they are part of a team, they make friends and they play the game of baseball,” Allain said.
It’s allowed 14-year-old Noah Dugas to realize a boyhood dream he never thought possible.
“Everybody just likes playing the game of baseball and it’s great for us to have the same chance,” he said.
But getting to those games has been a challenge for Noah and some other kids with limited mobility, says Noah’s father, Luc Dugas.
“Noah struggles just to get here through all the grass and stuff and he has to sneak in through the back way and if it’s muddy, it gets the chair all dirty,” he said.
“For some of the others kids they might fall and hurt themselves so to have an accessible field with the right turf and the right conditions would be fantastic for everybody.”
So, the team is trying to raise enough money to build a custom made baseball field for kids with special needs.
Allain says it will be the first of its kind in the Maritimes.
“We want a field of our own with a rubberized infield. We’re going to keep the grass for the outfield and we would have accessible dugouts,” Allain explained.
“Stands which are accessible as well so if they want to sit and watch their friends they can.”
The field would also be equipped with fully accessible washrooms, and trails leading to the field.
But those features don’t come cheap.
With a price tag of roughly $500,000, the City of Moncton has committed $167,000 to the project.
Spokesperson Nadine Melanson-LeBlanc says the city is hoping to start construction on the field at Moncton’s sportplex next spring.
The team is still waiting for word on whether or not the province will pitch in any money. They hope to raise the remaining money through fundraising efforts.
Allain says the field would be used by the entire community and beyond.
“If the Special Olympics want to use it they are more than welcome.”