Mayor Sly James expects Urban Youth Academy to spur economic development near Jazz District

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On the first day of Black History Month, a baseball complex is being built in a neighborhood known for its rich African-American history.

Mayor Sly James is calling the Urban Youth Academy project one of his biggest accomplishments as mayor.

The program is aimed at stopping violence and helping build a stronger neighborhood.

Phase one includes building two full size baseball fields, a little league field and a softball field.

The program will serve between 800 and 1,000 area kids.

The $14.5 million project will be paid for by major league baseball, as well as the state of Missouri and city of Kansas City.

The second phase will include building an indoor training facility, batting cages and the lighting on the fields.

Mayor James hopes this program will introduce more urban core kids with educational and career opportunities and as a result, be less likely to be involved in dangerous or illegal activities.

With the hundreds of students and their families who will now be in the area using these fields, Mayor James expects the project to spur more economic development near the Jazz District.

"In an area that needs economic development, they will be there with their parents they will want to spend money, which will spur further development and it will provide the kids not only with baseball skills but also with life skills," Mayor James said. "And it's more important for them to have the life skills."

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