Kansas City Mayor Sly James; Dayton Moore, General Manager of the Kansas City Royals; Tony Reagins, Major League Baseball (MLB) Senior Vice President of Youth Programs; Darrell Miller, Vice President of Youth & Facility Development; Royals players and other civic and community leaders broke ground on the Populous-designed Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy late last month.
Announced in September, the planned US$14m designed project will include an indoor training facility, three state-of-the-art baseball fields and one softball field to enhance the 18th and Vine District. Populous and JE Dunn will serve as the lead architects and contractors for the project, respectively. The groundbreaking officially marked the beginning of the construction of Phase 1, which is scheduled to open later this year. The continued success of the Phase 2 fundraising campaign could potentially allow for the Academy to be fully operational by the summer of 2017.
Mayor Sly James said:
As the father of a son who played baseball, I understand first-hand the ways that this game can give a young person a sense of direction. It can help them develop a strong work ethic while also learning what it means to be part of a team. As Mayor, I couldn’t ask for a better project to positively impact the lives of our City’s youth and help revitalize one of our City’s most historic districts.
The Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy’s initial goal will be to serve approximately 800-1,000 youth, ages 6-18, per year. In addition to providing free, year-round baseball and softball instruction, the Academy will provide youth access to educational and vocational programs.
The Kansas City Royals are deeply committed to growing the great game of baseball in our community and throughout the region. The Kansas City Urban Youth Academy will provide special opportunities for boys and girls to develop their baseball and softball skills while, most importantly, growing as leaders.
This project will enhance Parade Park for neighbours and support the existing efforts of MLB to attract more youth to the game, particularly through the MLB Urban Youth Academy network. The Academy will partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City to help support the local Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) programs and youth baseball initiatives around the area.
Major League Baseball is proud of our role in bringing the Urban Youth Academy project to this point. We believe this facility will provide a safe haven for young people to grow as individuals and ballplayers, and will be a tremendous source of pride for the community. We thank the Royals, Governor Nixon, Mayor James, the City of Kansas City and the MLBPA for their dedication and partnership in this effort.
The Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy is among nine Urban Youth Academies either in development or fully operational in the United States. The cities of Cincinnati (OH), Compton (CA), Houston (TX), New Orleans (LA), Philadelphia (PA) and Washington, D.C. all have operational Academies; while Kansas City is joined by Dallas (TX) and San Francisco (CA) as cities with Academies in development. The Kansas City Royals, the Glass family and local charitable support will provide personnel and cover all of the Academy’s operating expenses including equipment, supplies and utilities.
The Academy and park improvements will be developed in two phases:
- Phase I includes three baseball fields; one softball field; a walking trail with views of the baseball and softball diamonds; relocated basketball courts; relocated and renovated tennis courts and a relocated playground near the community centre
- Phase II includes the indoor training facility with a turf infield, batting cages, pitching mounds, restrooms and concession facilities for the diamonds; a Great Lawn that will serve as a front yard and shared event space for the Academy; and additional parking. Phase II is contingent upon the success completion of a fundraising campaign.
Weather permitting, the mass excavation will commence this week. The turf for the fields is planned to be installed mid-to-late July and the completion of Phase 1 is scheduled for early November.
Funding for construction comes from the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Foundation; the Major League Baseball Players Association; the City of Kansas City capital improvements sales tax; the State of Missouri and private donations raised by the Academy’s Fundraising Committee.
Main image: Kansas City Royals, Mayor Sly James and Major League Baseball on hand to celebrate milestone.