Request that will increase revenue for GFI approved by city council

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 1st, 2017

A request for extra camping space next to one of the city’s biggest summer events was given approval recently.

The city will be allowing the Grand Forks International baseball tournament organizers to provide recreational vehicle parking at nearby Dick Bartlett Park during the 2017 event (June 26-July 3), with the permission to charge the campers a fee.

In stating his case for the GFI to city council recently, event president Gerry Foster said the camping would provide fans coming to the event a place to stay close to the venue — James Donaldson Park — while the extra revenue would assist the GFI with its expenses.

“The idea makes sense, considering the proximity from there to the ball park and it helps reduce traffic in the city,” he said.

Foster also felt the move would provide a positive benefit for the community in terms of hospitality and tourism.

“Fans and visitors will hear about this in our advertising in advance of the event which gives them another reason to visit Grand Forks this summer and beyond for other events,” he said.

The money collected for camping fees will belong to the Grand Forks International.

Coun. Christine Thompson asked Foster if they used Bartlett Park for practice. He said sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

“There is a lot of space in Dick Bartlett Park, but I don’t foresee the campers parking on the actual diamond. I don’t think it is an issue at all,” Foster said.

In terms of the revenue, Foster hoped there would be a service club that would be able to help the GFI supervise it (for a split of the money).

City chief administrative officer Doug Allin said the city would ask for deposit for damage to the field.

Some on council wondered if the GFI could kick back some of the camping revenue to the city, a notion Mayor Frank Konrad quashed.

“What (the GFI) gives back to the community, just for the merchants along, speaks for itself; that’s enough payback for the city,” said Konrad. “To try and get a remunerative benefit back is an avenue I don’t think we should try to go down.”

Council approved the request to allow recreational vehicle parking at Dick Bartlett Park during event from June 25 to July 4 and the GFI will provide all maintenance and a bond for the use of the field. The city’s bylaw officer will provide some presence in the park as well.

The Grand Forks International (GFI) is an annual international invitational baseball tournament hosted at James Donaldson Park in Grand Forks. The GFI is the largest invitational baseball tournament in Canada and is a large part of the culture of the city. The tournament is also notable for being run entirely by volunteers.

The GFI was founded by Larry Seminoff, and the tournament led to the existence of the World Baseball Challenge, initially starting in 2002, at James Donaldson Park. The 2016 prize purse was $54,000.

Started in 1975 — and only cancelled twice in its history — the tournament has been won only twice in its history by a Canadian club, the last being the Burnaby Bulldogs in 2014. The nearby Lewiston Truckers (Lewiston, Idaho) have won the title a record nine times.

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