Before the first pitch was thrown in the women’s championship, controversy erupted when media reported the women’s round robin games would be played at the dusty, gravelly dirt fields across the road from the plush grass diamonds at the Pepsi Softball Centre.
But the decision to hold those games across the street didn’t come out of left field this week, says Softball Canada. It was made — and announced — eight months ago.
Soon after Whitehorse’s bid to host was accepted in November, Softball Canada — not Softball Yukon — announced due to a lack of fields there was no choice but to hold some round robin games at the fields. The women will move across the street when the playoffs start on Friday.
“Back in November there was no host city for this championship. Championships for Softball Canada are really hard to gain (for) prospective hosts because of the complexity, the number of teams, and different disciplines,” said Softball Canada director Rob Andison. “Softball Yukon bid on the championship to help Softball Canada out — they helped their membership out, to give their membership an avenue to play in a tournament.
“We knew what we were getting ourselves into, we knew the fields were limited, limited in size with the 275 (feet to the) fences. We knew if we had a number of teams, the women would have to play across the road. It’s unfortunate, but there’s no way the championship would have gone on.”
Field size was deciding factor — the dirt fields are smaller than the grass fields and the men hit the ball farther — but so was the expected spectatorship at games. The fields at the Centre have large stands and the dirt fields do not.
At Tuesday evening games with Yukon teams playing, there were maybe three dozen spectators at the women’s games and a couple hundred at the men’s.
“We sent out documentation saying this is what we’re doing,” said Andison. “The response we got back from the teams was minimal. There was no concern about playing in the dirt fields.”