2014-05-22 / News

Little Bear Arena Proposes Adding Outdoor ‘St. Ignace Memorial Sports Complex’

By Erich T. Doerr

Little Bear East Arena in St. Ignace could one day be part of a large complex of outdoor facilities for several sports. The proposal is called the St. Ignace Memorial Sports Park and Recreation Director Scott Marshall has suggested paying for its development in phases, using grants or perhaps selling family sponsorships. He showed a diagram of the proposal to the St. Ignace Recreation Advisory Committee at its Wednesday, May 14, meeting.

The tentative plan calls for redeveloping unused potions of the property around the pond north of the arena with the addition of two baseball and softball fields, two soccer fields, volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits. The concept also includes a pair of tennis courts in front of the arena across the street from the existing outdoor basketball courts.

“This would be a special place in the community for all recreational purposes,” Mr. Marshall said. “It would also serve as a place for special event gatherings.”

The complex would fill the need for more area sports fields. The only baseball and softball fields are at St. Ignace Area Schools. The youth season runs from May to June, but school sports tie up the fields through May, leaving teams playing all of their home games in the second half of the season. The fields are converted for soccer in July, preventing the season from being extended.

Adding baseball, softball, and soccer fields could allow St. Ignace to host tournaments, Mr. Marshall said, as it does for hockey in the winter. The prospect could prove a big draw in the summer when the city attracts most of its tourists. Additional fields could also open the door to other sports programs, such as adult softball.

Mr. Marshall suggests applying for grants to build the park or selling sponsorships to local families as another idea.

The cost of the project could be spread out over several years if it is built in phases. Mr. Marshall said this approach could prove ideal, since completing one set of fields could encourage donations to complete the others. The biggest expense for the project would be chain link fencing to enclose in the fields. The initial estimate was that it could cost $10,000 and $15,000.

The expansion plans also note that a section of the North Country Trail runs behind Little Bear East and around the pond. The old railroad grade multiple-use trail passing by the area would not be affected by the plans.

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