When players hit the field at North Saanich’s Rotary Park this season, they’ll be doing so out of a pair of new dugouts.
The Peninsula Baseball and Softball Association (PBSA) began work on the replacement dugouts late last year and had them ready to go for this season. They are larger, well-built and offer more safety features than the old ones. Dave Swinton, a long-time member of PBSA, umpire and Chair of the Association’s Park Improvements committee, says the dugouts are the latest improvement of the park’s full size ball diamond.
The growth of the diamond started in 2008, when PBSA asked the Victoria Airport Authority for more land to expand (the park itself sits on VAA property). They got it - enough to grow three of their diamonds - and began to make them up to standard for Baseball Canada. Their goal was to bring in more and better baseball games, teams and tournaments. Today, Swinton said they are the permanent home of the local Premier League ball team, and are hosting a variety of top-level and provincial level tournaments.
As improvements continued over the years, the main field’s outfield area was expanded and the infield was moved 25 feet out from the backstop in 2015. Still, Swinton said the dugouts were too small, having been built in the mid-1990s. In 2017, the PBSA board approved spending money to replace them.
Swinton said they received a lot of great community support — including a variety of donations from local businesses like Blackwell Structural Engineers, Slegg Building Materials, Randy Cunningham Construction, Cypress Homes, Island Dream Kitchens, the VAA and Town of Sidney and Birch Road Builders.
There was a pause in the work when the spring season started in 2017, but the new, 32-feet dugouts — complete with netting to help prevent potential injury from errant balls — were ready for this spring’s season. Swinton said the project, while late, came in under budget.
The dugouts are in full use now, helping complete the field improvements to date. Swinton added the diamond now allows PBSA to host more events and to keep pace with the growing sport in the region.
“This field is now something we are very proud of at Peninsula Baseball,” he said. “Ninety foot baseball fields are in short supply across Victoria and we now have one of the finest.”