Jackfish firm up future
Welland mayor Frank Campion, left, and Welland Jackfish president and owner Ryan Harrison display the logo for the Welland Roses. The Jackfish will play one game each season as the Welland Roses. Photo by: BILL POTRECZ.
The Welland Jackfish aren’t going anywhere.
The Intercounty Baseball League club announced at a press conference Monday they have signed a six-year lease extending through the 2026 season to continue to play out of the Welland Stadium. Part of that lease is an option for an additional six years.
The terms of the lease were approved by Welland City Council last December.
“We’re really excited to be here and cement ourselves in the city for the long haul,” Jackfish president and owner Ryan Harrison said. “As long as everything goes to plan, we’ll be here for at least the next 10-12 years.”
Welland mayor Frank Campion tipped his cap to the Jackfish for their commitment to the city.
“This is a great day for Welland, a great day for baseball and Welland sports and a great day for our community,” Campion said. “Ryan and his team have been spectacular tenants here who have certainly added a lot to our community. They are great community partners. They participate in our community through a variety of charitable events and really are very good at engaging our entire community.
“I think it’s an all-around win. It’s one of those things where we’re here for a good time and a long time.”
The Jackfish also announced they are working with the city on various improvements at the stadium. The park has been freshly painted and new dugout fencing and padding have been added.
Harrison said two new group areas for fans are being worked on for the upcoming season while a new scoreboard is also being planned down the line.
The 2020 IBL season was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, but Harrison is hopeful the Jackfish will be on the field June 3 when they are slated to host Guelph.
“As with anything, it’s up in the air to be honest,” he said. “A lot of things have to be worked out still but we’re still pretty confident we’ll be good to go.”
The league has hired the chief medical officer from the Ontario Hockey Federation to help with their plans for the 2021 season.
“In his opinion, the chance of us playing in front of fans is not farfetched by any means. We’re working with local government and health officials to get that potential plan approved,” Harrison said.
Harrison made it clear the league needs fans to play a 2021 season.
“We’re looking for 300, that’s the minimum we need to operate inside the stadium. We cannot play without fans. That is not attainable for us,” he said. “You will not have a season if we cannot play with fans.”
If there is a season, the Jackfish will play one game as the Welland Roses.
“Every season, starting in 2021, we’re going to have a Rose City game celebrating everything to do with the Rose City and a big part of it is going to be a charitable reach for the team,” Harrison said.
The team will wear new uniforms which will then be raffled off following the game in a silent auction with the all proceeds going to a charitable foundation in the city.
The Jackfish unveiled new Welland Roses caps for the game which are available on line at https://www.wellandjackfish.com.
Harrison also indicated the Welland Junior Jackfish, a U22 team which will play in the Intercounty Junior Baseball League, will be playing out of the stadium this summer.
As well, the team announced plans to bring non-baseball events to the facility including festivals, an annual corn hole tournament and yoga on the field. Baseball events at the stadium besides Jackfish home games include the 2021 and 2022 Ontario Baseball Association U22 Elimination Tournament and the 2022 Canada Summer Games.
The Jackfish are also in the process of finalizing their roster.
“We signed quite a few guys from 2019 and we added a bunch of new guys, players from out west and eastern Canada,” Harrison said. “We’re really excited about those guys.”
Harrison indicated former major league infielder Alberto Callaspo is still scheduled to play for the club, pending being able to cross the border.
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