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Business man makes play for collegiate baseball team in Thorold

The former communications director of the Blue Jays wants to bring a summer collegiate baseball team to Thorold but councillors are worried about the cost

Could Thorold become a summer hot spot for college baseball players?

Mal Romanin, who is the principal of the Dead Red Sports and Entertainment Group, wants to bring a summer collegiate baseball team to Thorold.

During last night’s city council meeting, he gave a presentation to convince councillors of his idea.

“It’s not just about baseball,” he told council members. “It’s about bringing the community together. Baseball is just the avenue to create major community festivals.”

Romanin pointed to his 12 years of experience as the former communications director of the Toronto Blue Jays, and said that he has the contacts to pull off the annual event which takes place over eight weekends.

Summer collegiate baseball aims to prepare college players for the big leagues, so it is the first chance for many to see the pro players of tomorrow in action.

There’s only two other summer collegiate baseball teams in Canada: one out West and one in Thunder Bay, so having a team in Thorold would be a real boon.

With the proximity to the US border, the team could easily go to the States for games, said Romanin.

He also assured councillors that he has no intention of creating problems for Thorold Minor Baseball and the Thorold Anchors.

“Our goal is to elevate the reputation of Thorold baseball,” said Romanin. “Not just come in and supplant anyone. We’re here to work with the community. That would be the long term goal.”

According to Romanin, the project would revitalize the downtown and pump thousands of dollars into the local economy.

But to bring collegiate baseball to Thorold, the city’s baseball fields would need to be upgraded. That’s why Romanin is proposing a phased approach, with games kicking off in 2025.

“We need clubhouses, dugouts, there are things that you require for an event of that magnitude,” Romanin said. “We’re looking for the City to make a commitment to upgrading the facility and that’s where it would start.”

When asked for a ball park figure, Romanin said that the initial upgrades to McMillan Park would probably cost between $1M and $2M.

“Obviously, we have that experience to reduce those costs, but that’s probably what you’re looking at,” he said. “If it’s approved in principal, we can take it beyond the council and do the hard finances where we get into the nitty-gritty and become partners.”

Romanin said that he’s “a Thorold boy,” at heart and that's why he wants to bring a summer collegiate team to the town he grew up in, adding: “I believe in this community."

While councillors expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for the project, they all had the same question: who is going to pay for it?

In the end, they asked City Hall staff to work with Romanin on a detailed proposal that would include financials, which will come before council by May.

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Bernard Lansbergen

About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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