There were a few bobbles along the way, but the improvements to Giants Field in Elmwood are well underway.
There were some construction delays because of the poor winter, which put the project a little behind schedule. The bathrooms that were planned to be added below the newly-constructed press box had to be shelved for this round of upgrades because in-ground pipes would have driven up the cost immensely.
Still, Giants past-president Al Kinley said that for all the frustrations, an upgraded park is on the horizon and is expected to be completed later this month.
"We’re way behind schedule, it should have been completed for the start of the season," Kinley said. "The cold winter delayed things quite a bit. We’re getting there, though."
Construction has not affected any of the Giants’ on-field products — the club fields two senior-level and two junior-aged teams — though fans are left scrambling for seats, as two of the three bleacher stands were still in the process of being replaced as of May 28. The juniors opened their season May 21 and the seniors did so the following evening.
In addition to the new bleachers and the press box and announcing booth, a new storage facility is also being built to replace the current container at the field and members’ garages that are also being used.
Project manager Bev Fisher expects all construction to be completed by mid-June and feels confident things are on track for that goal.
"We’re cleaning up (the site)," he said.
Kinley said the upgrades should add a little swagger to club members’ steps — and he hopes that extends further to help reignite the community as a baseball hotbed.
"It’ll give us, next to Shaw (Park), a baseball facility that can actually really be called that," he said. "Hopefully, it will help us getting sponsors, getting fans to games, and doing something for the Elmwood community and northeast Winnipeg."
One reason for the upgrades, which were announced last winter, was to help boost Winnipeg’s bid for the 2017 Canada Summer Games. The city was selected as the host about a year ago, and though Kinley hasn’t received official confirmation the country’s top youth ballplayers will be coming to Elmwood in three summers’ time, he’s optimistic about the park’s chances.
"They’ve told us we’re going to be one of the ones. It’s not 100 per cent official yet," Kinley said. "When it comes to baseball facilities, this is the logical place, this and Whittier (Park in St. Boniface)."