Phillies to Help Build Baseball Field, Expand Recreation Center

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All Rights Reserved

The Philadelphia Daily News
October 20, 2013 Sunday
WEB Edition
WEB; P-com News; Pg. 999
454 words
City, Phillies team up for $4 million youth project in S. Philly
BY DAVID GAMBACORTA; Daily News Staff Writer gambacd@phillynews.com, 215-854-5994

A STEADY THRUM of grinding gears on backhoe loaders and excavators echoes daily across a large chunk of the usually tranquil grounds at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park.

The commotion will be short-lived - and well worth it.

A new, regulation-sized baseball field is being built next to Richie Ashburn Field through Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy, a partnership that also involves the Phillies and the city's Department of Parks and Recreation.

At first glance, a new ball field doesn't sound like a big deal. But the field is just one piece of an ambitious $4 million project.

The Urban Youth Academy, which MLB launched seven years ago in Compton, Calif., aims to provide year-round physical training and educational opportunities to teens who are serious about going to college and making a life in sports.

The Philly project calls for an extension to be built onto the Marian Anderson Recreation Center, at 17th and Fitzwater streets, and for renovations to be made inside the existing property, said Ed Fagan, the director of Parks and Recreation's development division.

"There's already classroom space in there that we will utilize for tutoring and SAT prep courses," said Rob Holiday, the Phillies' director of amateur scouting administration.

"There's a fitness area that we can spruce up a little, and we plan to have indoor batting cages for baseball and softball for the cold weather."

Holiday said the academy will also offer programs that cover the ins and outs of strength and conditioning, groundskeeping, and food and beverage operations, for teens who might want to pursue careers off the field.

The academy will likely attract many teens who participate in the Phillies' popular Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.

"RBI covers kids all the way up to 18 or 19," Holiday said. "The Urban Youth Academy is going to help us capitalize on the kids that we already have in place, and give them a bigger venue to reach their potential."

Fagan said work on the new ball field is expected to be finished early next month. The site will include a new concession stand.

The Phillies will maintain the new field, along with Ashburn field and two softball fields at FDR Park, at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue.

Fagan said the new field will be used for college tournaments, existing Phillies programs and other events.

The city is contributing about $500,000 toward the cost of the work that'll be done at FDR and the recreation center, Fagan said.

MLB, the Phillies and the commonwealth are covering the rest of the cost, Holiday said.

"We've been working on this for a number of years," he said. "It just took time to find the right site for what we want to achieve."

Twitter: @dgambacorta

October 20, 2013

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