KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After nearly 15 years of fundraising and hard work, the first floor of the Buck O'Neil Education Center is nearly complete.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum owns the old YMCA Building at 18th and Paseo, where the Negro Leagues first formed 97 years ago. Recently, they've spent more than $4-million to preserve that history.
With the construction, the first floor gym is now an event space they can rent out to help pay the bills. They will also rent out the top two floors as office space, but the rest of the building will hold exhibits and a research library with a wealth of information about the Negro Leagues.
Director of the Negro Leagues Museum Bob Kendrick says it took a long time to get to this point.
"There's something very gratifying about the fact that you've been able to accomplish this against all odds," Kendrick said. "I think a lot of people thought this project would never see the light of day and we are one step closer to realizing Bucks dream."
They hope to open up to the public later this year and have the whole building completely renovated by the end of next year.
"We've been able to advance this project to this stage debt-free, and so we didn't risk the future of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to embark on this effort. I think a lot of our funders see that as being very fiscally responsible," Kendrick added.