Athletes need a home

Graphic by Augustine Ng of what Ryerson could be if it had space for a baseball and soccer field.

For most Ryerson athletes, team practices are at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, but for others it is a time-consuming commute that costs $3, two to four times a week.

Ryerson’s baseball team practices at Stan Wadlow Park in East York, which not only costs the players’ time spent on public transit, but an annual $450 player fee each year.  

“A baseball field occupies a ton of space,” said Ben Rich, founder and head coach of Ryerson’s baseball team. “It is pretty much impossible to find that much available space downtown to put a ballpark that is suitable for university use.”  

A university-sized baseball field would need approximately 4.5 acres, while a separate field for soccer may take up 1.5 acres. This does not include needed campus space for the curling and women’s fastpitch teams, that would also benefit from having space to practice and play closer to campus.

Christopher De Sousa, professor and director of urban and regional planning at Ryerson, said the reality is that land costs are extremely high for Ryerson to build a suitable field of its own. In 2013, Ryerson spent $32 million to acquire land on Jarvis and Dundas Streets and another small plot of land, totalling 1.5 acres. That space would only give the team a children’s baseball field. De Sousa said the land cost has only gone up since then.

The location seems uncompromising. Ryerson is right in the thick of a high-density city at one of its busiest intersections.

“I don’t think Ryerson will be able to have its own field given the growing demand and shrinking supply of land around us,” said De Sousa.

He said that Ryerson could look to share fields with local schools, such as the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre.  

This idea has been explored before, but the potential partnership didn’t happen.

The University of Toronto has many more field sports that use their stadium. “The problem was that our practice times would conflict with each other,” said Ryerson’s varsity operations coordinator, Nick Asquini.

As of now, De Sousa says that Ryerson has other needs that trump a sports field, and that unless the university receives a sizable donation, the costs associated with creating a new athletic space would simply be too high for an educational institution to justify.

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