Skip to content

Sports complex to soon add ice sports and cricket facilities?

The forecast in the soon-to-be-approved 2024 capital budget shows $140,000 for cricket facility design fees this year with another $2.37 million estimated for construction in 2026
Cricketers in North Bay are seeking proper facilities to play what has evolved into Canada's fastest-growing sport. Stock image.

Not only is it looking more and more as though the City of North Bay's twin-pad arena and community centre project will go ahead at the Steve Omischl Sports Complex location on Lakeshore Drive, but ice sports enthusiasts might soon be joined by athletes wielding a different type of bat than is typically seen in those parts.

During recent budget deliberations, a forecast found in the soon-to-be-approved 2024 capital budget includes a line for $140,000 for cricket facility design fees this year with another $2.37 million estimated for construction in 2026.

"We're going to try to get funding for another $70,000. We do have $70,000 to get started," said Ian Kilgour, director of community services. "Staff has already started the site search. With that money, we'll do some geotechnical on some of the sites we're looking at. We'll start to estimate what kind of construction costs we'll be looking at with regard to fill and drainage and those types of things."

City staff have been working with local cricket enthusiasts to determine if an existing location could be used or even redeveloped as a new cricket location but the playing surface needed is vast. According to this guide, cricket grounds have an overall diameter ranging from 137–152 metres (450–500 feet) with a total area of up to 18,000 m² or nearly 200,000 ft². The rectangular cricket pitch itself is located at the centre of the grounds and is surrounded by an oval infield with a radius of 27.4 m (90') from the centre of each wicket.

Now, it appears the plan is to finalize a location for the cricket field and complete the detailed design and cost estimate. Over the past decade, cricketers have been playing at locations with confined areas, such as Amelia Park in North Bay or adjacent to the community centre in Callander. If construction begins in 2026, the facility is expected to be completed by that fall. 

The shifting demographics in North Bay have led to the arrival of hundreds of cricketers — many from South Asia — with few places to play a sport that is contested in many countries around the world. It is estimated by Cricket Canada the number of players in Canada could reach half a million by the mid-2030s, according to immigration patterns, attaining the status of Canada's fastest-growing sport. According to the U.S. National Institute of Health,  approximately 2.5 billion people of all ages and abilities participate. Cricket is played by five million people in India, 1.4 million in Australia, and 300,000 in the U.K. Cricket is also the most popular spectator sport in India.

An opinion piece by BayToday's immigration columnist and a flurry of letters to the editor in late February identified a need for proper cricket facilities in town.

See relatedDon Curry, Why is it taking so long to find a home for cricket in this city?

See alsoLETTER: Lack of permanent cricket pitch 'disheartening'

Councillor Mark King suggested during budget talks that room for a new cricket pitch could be found at the Steve Omischl Sports Complex, with a site cleared in conjunction with the construction of a new community centre.

Kilgour was receptive to King's line of thinking.

"Councillor King, you're right on, it is a site that's being considered. There could be a benefit to that. We have to look at the other sites but it's definitely a site that's being considered."

CAO John Severino added, "If it's the site that is chosen, obviously there are synergies with the design," of the twin-pad arena and community centre but to add to the project's scope at this point could raise complications due to its tight construction timelines so the cricket pitch might have to come after the community centre is built.

In late February, Councillor Sara Inch and Jamie Lowery made a joint submission in support of building a cricket field — in response to a letter criticizing the idea.

In their letter, Inch and Lowery wrote, "Encouraging participation in cricket and other sports is a celebration of our community's diversity and a step towards building a more inclusive society where everyone can find a sense of belonging. It's about recognizing and valuing the contributions of all community members, celebrating our differences, and finding common ground in activities that bring joy, health, and unity.

"Let's not limit our understanding of community and culture to the sports we've traditionally known. Instead, let's embrace the new and diverse contributions that enrich our collective identity. Supporting cricket is not just about supporting a sport, it's about supporting our community's diverse and dynamic future."

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
Read more

Reader Feedback