Arkells ‘rally’ friends to fundraise for Woodlands Park basketball court renovation |

2022-05-14 08:37:56 By : Ms. Cecy Yan

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A central city basketball court is set to get a professional-grade facelift with a little help from one of Hamilton’s most beloved bands.

Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann announced on Instagram Friday that the Woodlands Park multi-sport court is getting an $80,000 revamp through a fundraising collaboration spearheaded by Arkells.

The project will see the existing basketball court transformed into a professional-level space with high-quality backboards and hoops, the addition of spectator bleachers, the installation of an acrylic surface to play on and new lighting that will keep the space accessible past dusk.

Speaking to The Spectator, Nann said the idea for the project actually came from Arkells lead singer, Max Kerman, who reached out to her back in January to pitch the collaboration.

“Ward 3 is a proud neighbourhood with a lot of basketball players,” said Nann. “There is a lot of court action, whether it’s at Powell Park, Lifesavers Park or Woodlands right now.”

In an interview Saturday, Kerman said the idea for the project came to mind while the band was recording down in Los Angeles. He had noticed there were several parks that had basketball courts sponsored by the Los Angeles Clippers, each of them fitted with professional-grade backboards and playing surfaces.

It was then that Kerman realized that Hamilton didn’t have anything similar in the city.

“As somebody who loves public spaces, I felt like Hamilton deserved something great,” said Kerman, who along with his band members, quickly got to work on putting the wheels of the project in motion.

With the help of Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr and bandmate Mike DeAngelis, Kerman was connected with Nann. They eventually landed on Woodlands Park.

Kerman said once the space was confirmed, he began reaching out to different organizations and close friends of the band that could help make the venture happen through private donations.

That included Ron Foxcroft and the Foxcroft Family Youth Fund, Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and the Nick Nurse Foundation, Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia and Canada Basketball CEO Michael Bartlett.

“It was a collection of people I know that really care about basketball and care about giving back to the community,” said Kerman. “They were really excited to be involved.”

Kerman noted that basketball is also a low-barrier sport that doesn’t require a lot of money for someone to play and that anyone can join in on a game of hoops at a local park.

“I just think the most enriching moments of your day are when you’re interacting with people outside of your bubble,” he said. “That’s what a good basketball court should offer.”

Nann said the availability of a professional-level court also “unlocks the possibility” for members of the community to “fall in love” with the sport and “feel a sense of pride.”

The project was a “no-brainer” for her office, she added.

Nann is hopeful that through the transformation of the multi-sport court, the Barton Street East park can also return to being a “destination” for the community.

Nestled between Wentworth Street North and Sanford Avenue, the green space used to have a fountain, more trees and often played host to working families and labour organizing, she noted.

“It used to be filled with community,” said Nann. “And a lot of residents have expressed a desire to reanimate the park and bring it back to life in a way that is age-inclusive.”

To honour the work of Arkells and their upcoming concert — “The Rally” — which is set to return to Tim Hortons Field next month, Nann put forward a motion at last week’s public works meeting to have the court be named “The Rally Court.”

It was passed unanimously, she said.

The rehabilitation of the multi-sport court is expected to be completed by the end of June to coincide with the event, added Kerman.

“This is such a feel-good moment,” said Nann, calling it a “legacy space” for the band. “It’s really a testimony to their investment and care for Hamilton.”

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