The Lamont Sports Park – a $6 million state-of-the-art baseball facility, officially opened June 24 in a former gravel pit at the south end of Port Elgin. Fundraising is underway for the $4.6 million phase two – two more diamonds and an accessible playground.
Those words – 13 years and $6 million in the making – rang out repeatedly June 24 at the official opening of the Lamont Sports Park that drew generous donors, happy politicians, honoured baseball greats, and excited fans to a former gravel pit at the south end of Port Elgin that has been transformed into a state-of-the-art baseball facility with four lit diamonds, a shelter and trail access. Phase two includes two additional diamonds and an accessible playground.
The phase one price tag was $6 million – phase two is estimated at $4.6 million.
Generous donors sat with members of the Illuminating Dreams fundraising committee who made the “asks” – generating $1.8 million – as the mayor dedicated the facility to the service of the community.
In his welcoming remarks, Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau called the facility is a “shining testament” to the spirit of the community and to the achievements of working together.
“May it be a place where we have lots of fun, where we have lots of teamwork, where our teams have lots of victories, and most important of all… may it be a place where anything is possible,” the mayor said.
First in a very long list of generous donators to the facility were Harold and Chayle Sutherland, the previous owners of the property, who sold it to the town and also made a “very sizeable” donation, according to the mayor who called the Sutherlands up to the microphone as a banner marking their contributions was unfurled.
“Enjoy it,” Harold Sutherland said of the property that he operated as an aggregate pit until 2019.
The rich history of baseball in Port Elgin, Southampton and Saugeen Township was detailed by local historian Bill Streeter who dated ball playing back to the 1920.
He introduced Southampton’s Doug Huber, known as an exceptional softball outfielder in the 1950s, and Ron Bruce who played for local, regional and provincial championship teams in 1940s and unveiled two commemorative plaques telling the story of baseball in this community.
Streeter also detailed the history of the 151-acre property, first recorded in 1851 and owned by the Clements family and traced by Streeter, a member of the Town’s Municipal Heritage Committee, through the decades, including the Lamont family in the 1970-1995 and the Sutherlands who “negotiated a favourable agreement” with the Town for the property, he said.
It was hard to tell who was proudest – Vice Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt or Ron Stanley, co-chairs of the Illuminating Dreams fundraising committee that raised $1.8 million (the goal was $1 million.)
Myatt thanked his co-chair, Town staff, the fundraising committee, and his wife Jean, for their dedication and hard work.
Mayor Charbonneau said Bruce Power’s importance to the project would be hard to over state as it donated $250,000 to the project and leveraged an additional $225,000 from its suppliers.
Bruce Power CEO Mike Rencheck said he grew up in a small town and all they had was baseball and standing at home late brought back all those summer memories.
“I can’t tell you how proud Bruce Power is to be an Illuminating Dreams partner. That $250,000, I think, in the long-term, will really help not only Bruce Power but our communities come together and continue to prosper well into the future,” Rencheck said, adding the facility shows what is possible when they work together.
“I think that’s why Illuminating Dreams is an appropriate name, an appropriate sponsorship not only for Bruce Power but for this park,” he said, adding Bruce Power employees and owners also deserve thanks for their support.
The Rotary Club of Saugeen Shores was recognized as a Golden Glove donor ($100,000), and president Pat O’Connor said they voted unanimously to support an accessible playground, which is part of the phase two plans that also include two additional diamonds. The Golden Glove level donation gives Saugeen Shores Rotarians 20-year naming rights for the playground that is under construction.
“We hope that our early contribution and commitment helps with the fundraising efforts of the Lamont Sports Park…” O’Connor said.
“We thank everyone who donated and the town for its will and foresight to create and build this incredible park for all of Saugeen Shores,” he said, also thanking his fellow Club members for hosting a pancake breakfast that morning and then a barbecue lunch.
Fundraising co-chair Myatt then acknowledged donations at the Diamond, Home Run, Super Fan, and Triple and Double levels, asking those in the crowd to stand for a round of applause in thanks.
His co-chair, Rob Stanley noted there are 51 banners around the diamonds, each identifying donations of $10,000 or more.
He joked that as fundraisers they looked around for any other naming rights they could sell and someone suggested the bleachers.
“We put a price of $5,000 on 18 bleachers and they were sold out in two weeks,” Stanley said, reading out the names of a long list of generous donors.
The $250,000 win in the 2019 Kraft Heinz Project Play, competition was the catalyst of Lamont Sports Park fundraising, and Kraft Heinz district sales rep. Jeff Myatt, who also sat on the Illuminating Dreams fundraising committee, said it was a “truly special” time in the community to see support for the Project Play campaign.
The first pitches on the Bruce Telecom field were made by Bruce Telecom CEO Ray Lahoud, baseball greats from the past Doug Huber and Ron Bruce and Super Fan Vi Cottrill.
The groups then moved to the other three diamonds for ceremonial first pitches.
The afternoon featured fastpitch, fastball, slo pitch men’s and lady’s games.
Source: Shoreline Beacon