Elmwood’s baseball team will soon have a field to live up to its name.
MP Lawrence Toet (Elmwood-Transcona) announced Feb. 22 that Giants Field on Chalmers Avenue will receive $127,063 for upgrades to its facilities through the federal government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).
As well, the City of Winnipeg is expected to contribute $50,000 to the project, with approval anticipated to come at East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee on Feb. 26. The club has also received $16,000 through the province’s Community Places grant and remains in talks to garner the remaining funds to complete the approximately $285,000 project.
The Giants have two senior teams, a junior AAA team, and a junior AA squad that call the field home. As well, the University of Winnipeg Wesmen team uses the field for practices and as a backup for games, while the local midget AAA team and the provincial program also make use of the field.
Giants past-president and treasurer Al Kinley said the club will build an announcing booth and press box and also upgrade its storage facilities at the field. Announcers currently sit under a canopy at field level and equipment is kept either in a container at the field or in club members’ garages.
Kinley hopes to add washroom facilities and a canopied viewing area, and replace two smaller sets of bleachers that date back to the 1960s.
"(The stands are) in pretty bad shape," said Kinley. "We take them and replace boards and do odds and ends to keep them going."
The improvements, which Kinley hopes to get underway in April and complete in August, will help the Giants in their chase to secure major events at the field. Kinley hopes to land the Baseball Canada U21 Championships and be a part of Winnipeg’s 2017 Canada Summer Games bid.
He hopes to bring booming crowds before those big-time events, though.
"Giants Field always used to be the focal point of the community," he said. "It attracted people from all over Elmwood and we’d like to get back to that.
"When we turn the lights on at night, we want to get people coming."
Toet said the Giants’ legacy is one of the reasons he found it important to fund the project.
"The historical significance is really important," said Toet, recalling past Giants stars, such as pitcher Carey Candy. "They’ve contributed greatly to the fabric of the community and actually, to the whole of Winnipeg."
Coun. Thomas Steen (Elmwood-East Kildonan) said he hopes to see the club achieve continued success in the years to come.
"It’s a 100-year-old club, and we hope to keep the tradition going hundreds of years more," said Steen. "I always think of long-term investments — for children, grandchildren, and their children."