Lacasse Park, home of the Tecumseh Thunder as well as other programs in the Tecumseh area, has been approved for a 3.4 million dollar renovation with work beginning in October. The first major renovation to the diamond since 1993, it will be a huge boost for baseball in the community in making baseball more accessible as it should significantly improve the experience for both fans and players alike. Entering their 80th year of existence, the Tecumseh Baseball Club will have an updated home like never before.
“Coaches, players, alumni and fans in the area are all very supportive,” Jamie Kell said, discussing the community reaction to the news. Kell has been a mainstay in Tecumseh baseball as the President of the Tecumseh Thunder Baseball Club and coach of the Senior AAA team. He was also mentioned in the Canadian Baseball Network “Most Influential Canadians” list in 2021.
Lacasse Park is getting a total makeover, and it will be well worth it. Come 2023, there will be a complete reconstruction of the grandstands and backstop, making the chassis of the ballpark more fundamentally sound. There will be construction of a new plaza area behind the grandstands where new concessions, washrooms, storage, and other baseball areas — such as cages and bullpens — may be relocated. In addition, the grandstands will host a new home-team player locker room and storage for team equipment. There may be a first aid room and umpire room added as well, giving Lacasse more quality-of-life improvements.
Kell explained that, “players will gain the look and feel of a true ‘stadium’ experience on the field and off the field [and] will be treated to updated facility amenities in the locker room.”
This will be the first big-time renovation to the diamond since 1993, where the grandstands were rebuilt following a fire in the early ‘90s. “There was a call for ‘Help rebuild the grandstands” in the town and major sponsors and residents stepped up to the plate in fundraising to get the grandstands built the way we see them today,” Kell said.
In 2013, New Musco Sport Lights were added, a new roof and windows to the Gene’s Cabin, as well as paved pathways for easier travel across the park In 2017, the dugouts were expanded in order to fit the rosters that had grown in size with several programs calling the Lacasse Park home, including the St. Clair Saints at the OCAA level.
Similar to the 1990s renovation, the Tecumseh Baseball Club has committed $100,000 to the project and will be working on a “Build it with a Brick” fundraising campaign. “Players, coaches, alumni, families who have had loved ones who used to be a part of the TBC, as well as any and every resident or company in the Windsor-Essex and Tecumseh area [has] the ability to help be a part of this legacy build and stamp their names permanently into a wall of support for this project.” Kell explained.
One of the main goals at all stages of the planning process was to keep the community in mind. “We want this project to not only create a beautification project for Lacasse Park itself and to make a space which residents feel proud to visit but to make the space more accessible and increase the sightlines for a better experience watching the game of baseball for all,” Kell explained.
The idea is that families and fans — home or away — will have plenty of options to optimize their viewing experience, such as watching the game under the new grandstand, down the baselines, or from behind the dugouts. Adding in concessions and an accessible on-site washroom will simply be part of the upgrade that fans have been clamouring for. After a couple of years of a pandemic-changed lifestyle where people have been expected to stay inside, Lacasse Park will be a great release for the community and all involved.
“The plan is to get started as soon as the last pitch in October is thrown and start the demolition and pouring of the concrete footings in the warmer weather,” Kell said. “Construction of the backstop will be made a priority to make sure games can start next May.” If any other aspects of the construction need to be completed, they can be worked on during the season because, as Kell says: “As long as the backstop is up, we can play!”
The grandstands and backstop have reached their “end of asset life” as per a 2017 study — still structurally sound, of course — so this is the perfect time to begin a new era of baseball for the Tecumseh Thunder and the surrounding area. “This is truly a legacy project which will be enjoyed by all. Even if baseball is not your sport, the space will be impressive and should make the residents of Tecumseh and Windsor-Essex proud to visit.”