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Memorial Field ball diamond renamed to honour dedicated volunteer

Lyle Helland was a major part of Moose Jaw's sports community

Lyle Helland was a dedicated volunteer who looked after Memorial Field for 27 years, so now the municipality intends to rename part of the area after him.

During its April 8 regular meeting, city council unanimously approved a motion to name the ball diamond at Memorial Field the Lyle Helland Diamond. The overall space will remain as Memorial Field, but the diamond itself will be renamed. 

The motion came as a recommendation from the parks and recreation advisory committee. Memorial Field is located on Caribou Street East. 

“As the letter (from Helland’s family) states, for him it was a labour of love to take care of that field,” said Coun. Brian Swanson. Although Swanson thought the overall complex — including stadium and surrounding area — could use some upgrades, “the maintenance of the (ball) field was of extremely high quality.”

In the letter, Helland’s family noted he lived for his family, friends and sports. He always gave everything to care for Memorial Field. The family thought renaming the complex would be “the perfect way to show our appreciation for everything he did, not only for the ball field, but for each and every person (who) walked through its doors.”

Helland was inducted into the Moose Jaw Warriors Hall of Fame in 2013 as a builder for his role with the team, including helping bring the team to Moose Jaw. 

According to a report from city administration, research indicated the first mention of Memorial Field was in 1946 after the Second World War. Conversations with the Royal Canadian Legion revealed the organization had no knowledge of why the park was given that name. 

There are no veterans’ monuments that exist at Memorial Field to serve as a war memorial, the report continued. The field is used mainly by ladies’ slo-pitch and men’s fastball, plus other activities such as football to weddings. 

Lyle Helland and his wife, Frani, took over operations of Memorial Field in 1991, and for 27 years, ensured that all areas of the fastball diamond and stadium were in excellent condition for players, officials and spectators, the report said. Helland was committed to the field every summer until 2018; he died on Oct. 23, 2018 at age 84. 

The report pointed out Moose Jaw sports fields — such as Bell Park and Optimist Park — have names, with the diamonds named after people who contributed to the community. The parks and recreation committee’s sub-committee recognized the historical significance and background of Memorial Field in the community.

Administration sought public and stakeholder feedback about the renaming request, the report said. Forty-seven emails related to Memorial Field were received. The feedback showed:

  • 61 per cent of feedback supported naming the ball diamond after Lyle Helland
  • 15 per cent of the feedback supported naming the entire complex the Lyle Helland Memorial Field, to honour both Helland and the field’s historical significance
  • 24 per cent did not support renaming the field, as per the historical importance or cost associated with the renaming

The next city council meeting will be held April 22.

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