Editor’s note: Quotes from GFI Society President Bud Alcock and Coun. Michael Wirischagin added.
There will be no Grand Forks International (GFI) baseball tournament in 2013.
The GFI board of directors cited the retirement of key, long-time volunteers and the withdrawal of two confirmed teams to attend Canadian Nationals as reasons for the tournament’s cancellation.
It wasn’t a decision made lightly GFI Baseball (2001) Society president Bud Alcock told the Gazette.
“We had three extraordinary meetings,” he said. “We agonized over this for several weeks. Normally at this time of the year, we meet once a month and we’ve been meeting every week since Christmas. Trying to see if there were alternate teams we could pull in. It didn’t come together quite the way we wanted but we spent the last month and a half basically agonizing over it and finally came to a decision that we had to make up our minds by the beginning of March. As a result we decided not to go with it this year.”
However, the hiatus for the tournament will be only for one year Alcock said, with the GFI committee planning for the 2014 tournament.
“Next year we’ll come back just as strong,” Alcock said. “We’re looking forward to 2014, we’re going to be out canvassing for volunteers again, we’re working really hard in bringing some top-quality, international ball into Grand Forks again.”
Coun. Michael Wirischagin, the city’s GFI liaison, was caught off guard by the announcement.
“I know a great deal of locals will be disappointed with that decision. I am sure they had their reasons as to why they aren’t going to hold it, but truly I believe that if there was a way, any way possible in this world to hold it, they should,” Wirischagin said.
“It is a part of our cultural identity and a part of who we are. This is not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars that are pumped into the service industry – accommodations, food and the like due to this tournament. That money is not going to be easily replaced,” he said, adding that he wished organizers well in planning for 2014.
There has been suggestion that the tournament had been struggling over the last few years but Alcock dismissed the notion that the cancellation had to do with financial issues.
“Thanks to the guidance and efforts of previous boards and sponsors over the last few years, the GFI is stronger financially than it’s ever been. As mentioned, we lost two key teams and some key volunteers, nothing much more than that,” Alcock said.
The City of Grand Forks is in the process of rebuilding the infield of James Donaldson Park and the GFI board said the decision would allow the field to be in optimum condition in 2014.
Doug Allin, CAO for the City of Grand Forks, said that the installation of the infield is expected to be completed in the next two weeks, when all moisture is gone and depending on delivery of materials.<!–Allin also said the turf would take some time to set.
Hal Wright, the city’s manager of operations, estimated it would take upwards of six weeks.
“I think between proper care and proper watering, once we get with the sod and rolling it, we’re probably looking at four to six weeks before it’s ready for play,” Wright said.