New Waterford councillor to purpose discount on field rentals in bid to save ball tournament

By Jeremy Fraser
Jan. 21, 2015

Lowell Cormier has an idea he hopes will save an annual baseball tournament in New Waterford.

The district 11 councillor’s idea is to propose Cape Breton regional council with an offer to discount field rentals for minor sports teams. He plans on bringing the idea to council in the coming months.

“It’s something I think we will have to review prior to the spring.”

This comes after news the New Waterford Marlins mid-season classic annual baseball tournament is in jeopardy because of the price of field rentals.

The tournament, hosted by the local Midget ‘A’ baseball team, has been running since 2008. It started as a four-team affair, but quickly expanded to eight to 10 teams when word spread.

For the first six years of the tournament, the municipality donated the fee to the tournament organizing committee. That changed last July. The organizers were told they had to pay $20 an hour for the lights and a $25 rental fee per day.
Halifax charges $15 an hour for lights, but has a discount for teams hosting tournaments. It charges teams $15 a day for lights and $52 for the field rental.

Hosting the tournament in Halifax would cost $201. In Cape Breton it costs $325, $124 difference in price.

The difference is something the council will look at, said Cormier.

“We will likely compare with other municipalities and see what they are charging before any decision would be made.”

The tournament, which runs during the town’s summer festival, is a boost to the local economy, he said.

“Bringing close to 10 teams to town during the month of July is great for us locally,”

Cormier, a big baseball fan, said he looks forward to the tournament each year.

“It’s always nice to go down the ball field and watch the hometown Marlins. It’s great for the residents of New Waterford.”

Barry Long is the chairman of the tournament organizing committee. He is happy with Cormier’s response, he said.

“It’s news our committee was hoping to hear.

“Our group meets monthly and works hard to make the tournament successful for, not only the community, but the visiting teams. We don’t want to stop the tournament.”

Marlins manager Brad Baker said although the idea will be proposed at the next municipal meeting, there is still uncertainty.

“It’s a start of being on the right track, but we still don’t know for sure.”

Pending a change in rental fees, this year’s tournament is scheduled for July 17-19 at the Gerry Marsh Ball Field in New Waterford.

Teams are already starting to ask for spots, said Long.

“We are getting phone calls asking if we are accepting teams, but we can’t give them an answer until a decision is made on rental fees.”

Joseph Tighe is a local baseball fan. Residents pay enough taxes that there shouldn’t be an issue with the council donating the fees.

“Taxes here are some of the highest in Canada. The money isn’t going to roads because they are in worse shape now than before.

“Taxpayers in town wouldn’t mind seeing some of their money going back to something like lighting a field for the kids to play on. It’s better than seeing them hang around town causing trouble.”

Chris Hillier is the president of New Waterford Minor Baseball. He, along with Baker, hopes something can be done before the players hit the field in early May.

“It’s better to know going into the season that the tournament is a go. It will be a lot of heart act off our shoulders.

“It also gives time for the organizers to prepare for the tournament.”

Cormier said the two sides will meet to discuss a way to try to save the event for the future.