The Abbotsford Angels Hardball Association (AAHA) has cancelled its first-ever planned opening day ceremonies due to “insurmountable obstacles” placed by the City of Abbotsford.
On Saturday morning, a parade of 680 athletes was set to walk from Clearbrook Park to Exhibition Park, where a day of games would mark the beginning of the spring baseball season, AAHA president Steve Coleman said. But, he said, those games couldn’t go ahead without portable pitcher’s mounds to allow teams to play baseball on fields designed for softball and the association couldn’t bring those mounds to Exhibition without anywhere to store them afterwards.
Coleman said he planned to bring a shipping container to Exhibition to store the mounds, but the city wouldn’t allow it. Despite help from the municipality’s staff in planning other aspects of the opening ceremonies, Coleman said no solution was found for storing the mounds and on Tuesday his board was forced to cancel the festivities.
Since then, the city has offered to empty a storage can of its own at Exhibition and allow the AAHA to use it, he said.
“Now solutions are coming like crazy,” Coleman said.
But by the time the storage issue was solved, he said many coaches and umpires had already made other plans for Saturday.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Coleman said. “Where was all this support and understanding?”
He said city staff have offered an apology to the baseball community, which he plans to post on the AAHA website. A representative from the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday morning.
While most other Lower Mainland cities kick off the spring season with an opening day event, Coleman said this would have been the AAHA’s first. Growing up in Surrey, he said opening day there was always a special event.
“I have vivid memories of that and it was just such a great day – all the kids were all in full uniform together all different age groups, all the siblings were together and we just loved that parade portion and having all the games go on it was just a huge way to just kick off the season on a positive note with everybody there together.”
Coleman said the season will now start, as it has in years past, on Sunday, April 1.
He said he will soon start planning the baseball association’s true first-annual opening day ceremonies for next year.