A two-day delay in last summer’s Maccabiah Games softball and baseball tournaments has prompted a couple of Canadian sports enthusiasts to look at building a new sports facility in Israel.
Morrie Frydberg and Lorne Swartz are spearheading an effort to construct a new permanent facility to host the softball and hardball events at upcoming Maccabiah Games.
At the 2009 Games, Maccabiah organizers rented space from the Baptist Village in Petach Tikvah. But that arrangement presented serious problems, Frydberg told The CJN. At the last games, local officials stopped the competition after a couple of days, when it turned out the host village did not have the proper permits for a large-scale event. “We lost two to three days” as teams sat idle, waiting for the problem to be cleared up, Frydberg said. “We don’t want that to happen again.”
In addition, the fields, though the best in Israel, fall short on a number of grounds. There is no outfield fence – hits can roll forever – and it is costly to rent for a short tournament. A new facility would provide the Maccabiah competition with a venue for future competitions and allow for the development of the sport among Israeli youngsters, Frydberg said.
Frydberg and Swartz are collaborating with Israeli partners in pushing the non-profit project. Three options are being considered. The first is to obtain a long-term lease for a parcel of land near Tel Aviv. The second is for a lease on land in northern Israel, while a third would be to purchase a property near the Baptist Village.
Frydberg, who was born in Israel but moved to Canada as youngster, said the first two options are more economical but even so, a ballpark figure is $1 million (US). That would permit the landscaping of two dedicated fields, construction of a facility that would house changing rooms, a snack bar, offices and storage area plus spectators’ stands.
Organizers are working on a budget that is expected to be completed by the end of January. Most of the funds needed for the project are expected to be raised in Canada, the United States and Britain. Naming rights for lights and the field and the building are being considered, he said.
Frydberg, whose return to Israel as an adult felt “like coming home to me,” said Canada performed well at the Maccabiah despite the difficulties. The men’s open team took the gold and the men’s masters team won silver, while the women’s open team earned a bronze.