09/22/2010 1:04 PM ET
First-ever multi-site MLB Urban Youth Academy to be built in Philadelphia
Nearly $3 Million Will Go Towards Providing Free Baseball and Softball Instruction to Young People
Philadelphia Facility is Fourth U.S. Academy Announced by Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies and the City of Philadelphia today announced a nearly $3 million project to build the first-ever, multi-site MLB Urban Youth Academy, to be located in Philadelphia at Richie Ashburn Field Complex in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, and at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center. The multi-site facility, called the Philadelphia Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy, will provide free, year-round baseball and softball instruction to young people in the City's underserved communities. To date, the project has been supported by MLB, the Phillies, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF), the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
"Philadelphia is a city rich in baseball history with a passionate fan base of all ages," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "This community is very deserving of an Urban Youth Academy, and we're confident it will provide the young baseball and softball players of Philadelphia with a quality, year-round facility to develop their skills."
"For more than 20 years the Phillies, in partnership with Major League Baseball and the City's Parks and Recreation, have been providing children in underserved areas with the opportunity to develop their baseball and softball skills through our RBI program," Phillies General Partner and President David Montgomery said. "Beginning today, with the announcement of the first cold weather academy in the country, we are taking our collective commitment to a new level. We believe this year-round training will help nurture local talent and provide support to promising players who have a bright future in this game."
"Now more than ever, Philadelphia's young people must be well-educated in order to become contributing members of a safe, economically vibrant city," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. "That is why this partnership with Major League Baseball and the Phillies is so significant. Not all the children who enter this Academy will become professional athletes, but all of them will leave with a firm grasp of how a quality education can help transform their lives."
The Philadelphia Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy is a multi-site plan with both indoor and outdoor facilities. Renovations and expansions are planned for the existing Richie Ashburn Field Complex at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, creating two professional-sized fields, both with bleacher seating for 500 fans. The centerpiece of the renovated complex will be a show field complete with scoreboard, dugouts and batting cages. In addition, the Ashburn Complex will include two softball fields, office space for tournament management and amenities such as a concession and picnic area. The Academy's other resources will include renovated indoor training facilities at Marian Anderson Recreation Center, featuring batting and pitching cages, a fitness center and classrooms. There will also be a 10,000 square foot extension to the South Philadelphia recreation center to provide additional indoor training opportunities.
"We are pleased to help fund the renovation of the two fields that will play an integral part in the Philadelphia Urban Youth Academy," said BTF Executive Director Cathy Bradley. "The field renovations will help this program grow significantly, and we hope that baseball and softball in Philadelphia will continue to thrive."
The Philadelphia Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy will be managed in collaboration by Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. Former Major League and professional players, scouts, college and high school coaches, along with others from the baseball and softball communities, will provide instruction and program oversight. The Academy will offer free programs and support to thousands of participants of the Phillies Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Program and the Philadelphia Park & Recreation's baseball and softball programs. The Academy's facility and program resources will be available to the young people of the Philadelphia area year-round through a membership program.
The Philadelphia Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy is a strategic relationship that will enhance the quality of baseball and softball throughout Philadelphia while directly addressing other Philadelphia Parks & Recreation youth development objectives. It will create a dynamic youth program that utilizes baseball and softball to develop the athletic and social potential of participants. There will be programs offered for skill development, physical fitness, coach training and academic support. The Academy's goal is to graduate 100 percent of the youth it serves.
The Philadelphia Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy will be modeled after the first MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California. Opening its doors in 2006, the Urban Youth Academy in Compton has proven that it can help to grow the game with more than 100 student-athletes drafted since its inception. In total, more than 50 student-athletes have signed professional contracts and more than 110 Academy student-athletes have gone on to participate in collegiate baseball and softball programs.
This is the fourth MLB Urban Youth Academy in the United States that has been announced by Major League Baseball. In addition to the Academy in Compton, one has opened in Houston, Texas, and another has been announced for Hialeah, Florida.