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COVID-19 puts Sylvan Lake baseball stadium in danger

The multi-million dollar stadium is expected to break ground in June and be ready for 2021 season
An artist rendering of the Gulls Stadium planned for Pogadl Park. Photo Courtesy of the Sylvan Lake Gulls Facebook

The Sylvan Lake Gulls, the newest addition to the Western Canadian Baseball League, is in danger of losing their home before the inaugural season.

The ground breaking for the Gulls’ future home is scheduled for later in June, however the current economic decline might push plans back.

According to a letter sent to the Sylvan Lake News, the team owners, Graham and Jen Schetzsle are looking for investors for the new stadium, which is expected to have a price tag north of $7 million.

The letter states the Schetzsles have set a deadline of June 1 of this year to raised “the balance in funding from private investors or the public sector.”

The letter continues, saying it is possible if the funds are not raised by the deadline the stadium project may be shelved or cancelled all together.

In an email, General Manager a President of Baseball Operations Aqil Samuel said the Gulls are still looking forward to their inaugural season in 2021.

“The Gulls remain firmly committed to 2021, as their inaugural season in the WCBL.”

“We’re strong baseball fans and no matter how tough things are now, we are absolutely convinced that over the long term, this project could be an amazingly successful one,” said Graham Schetzsle.

The provincial lock down and economic downturn from COVID-19 has caused potential investment from the private sector to freeze.

Currently the Gulls and the team’s owners are looking for private investments as well as applying for applying for provincial and federal government funding for the stadium.

“As a result of the state of the economic environment, we are exploring any and all avenues to have our facility constructed on time. We continue to search for solutions to deliver a first class stadium, in the long run that Central Alberta deserves.”

The construction and eventual management of the stadium is expected to bring numerous jobs to the region, as well as tourism for Sylvan Lake.

The stadium will be situated in Pogadl Park, an 85-acre recreation and sporting complex on the west end of town.