KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ground was broken on Wednesday for Kansas City’s new Urban Youth Baseball Academy.
Metro baseball enthusiasts say the academy is where the game will grow. Phase one will open this fall, teaching baseball to kids who live in the inner-city. As the ceremonial shovels were put to work, dignitaries who have pushed for the project, like Mayor Sly James, began to beam.
Royals General Manager Dayton Moore has been involved from day one -- and helped the $14 million dollar dream become a reality.
“It will take a lot of dedication. It's going to take everybody as we come alongside of young people and grow them as leaders,” Moore said.
The current baseball diamond in Parade Park will be cleared sometime next week -- and replaced with state of the art diamonds and training centers.
Ten-year old Cerrone Bryant lives within several blocks of the park. He plays on a team within the Kansas City RBI League -- and is one of the 1,000 kids expected to use the academy each year.
“It’s going to be, like, so cool because it's right down the street and I can come and practice anytime and work on my skills and we have somewhere to play with our team,” Bryant said.
Leyshon Evans is mother to two young baseball fanatics. She believes giving inner-city kids more activities can lower crime rates.
“It will keep them off the streets and keep them out of trouble and keep them into something good,” Evans said.
A combination of state funding and private money will fuel this project, and when it's completed, the baseball academy will also include playgrounds, basketball courts and a Great Lawn, which will serve as gathering spot for the community.
Major League Baseball has eight other urban youth academies -- either in use or under construction. They're meant, in part, to stimulate interest in baseball in the urban core, where childrens' interest in baseball has been in decline.