Over the next few weeks and month, the beginnings of a baseball stadium will start to take shape in the soon-to-be Pogadl Park.
Despite a few months of uncertainty, the Sylvan Lake Gulls say they will continue with plans to build a stadium in time for the 2021 season.
Aqil Samuel, general manager and president of baseball operations, says the team was looking for new funding sources to fully build the planned stadium after financial backers pulled back due to ongoing pandemic concerns.
Full funding for the stadium has not yet been secured, but work will proceed, Samuel said in a recent phone interview.
“We are working with the original funding from Graham [Schetszle, owner of the team]. This will give us a 1,000 seat stadium, and a full lit field,” Samuel said.
What will be missing is the luxury boxes, each of which has 12 seats and a small kitchen area.
The “concourse level” may also be replaced by temporary buildings for the first year of operations, Samuel says. This will include bathrooms and concession stands for the stadium.
“We are still hopeful we will be able to find partners to build the full stadium for our first year, but we decided it was best to move forward with the project,” he said.
“Now that everything is slowly coming back online we are pushing play again.”
The team broke ground in the future Pogadl Park last fall. Samuel says work has progressed on the stadium even during the pandemic shutdowns.
Concrete work for the stadium is being done by a company out of Blackfalds by Eagle Builders. The cement forms will be used for the bleachers and the backstop.
The developer for the project is Select Engineering out of Edmonton.
“We are really looking forward to our inaugural year, and giving Sylvan Lake some great ball,” said Samuel.
While construction for the stadium proceeds, Samuel says he will be working with local businesses for advertising opportunities and naming rights for the field.
“Everything kind of came to a halt right after our name presentation… we are pushing play again and looking for advertisers for things like our outfield boards,” he said.
Next, the Gulls will begin the scouting process for players and the coach.
The process will begin this month, with Samuel reaching out to contacts and teams across North America.
In September, when the collegiate teams hopefully begin their seasons, he says the real scouting process will begin.
The 2020 season of the Western Canadian Baseball League has been cancelled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samuel says he thinks more people will be excited for the new team next season.
“We are just looking forward to the 2021 season and bringing a team and a stadium the community can really be proud of,” Samuel said.