Kansas City young people are one step closer to playing ball on new fields at Parade Park, expected to open in summer 2017.
The City Council’s Finance Committee on Wednesday endorsed $2,052,000 in city funds for an urban youth baseball academy in Parade Park, between 15th Street and 17th Terrace, the Paseo to Woodland Avenue. The full council votes Thursday.
The city capital improvements sales tax money would supplement $2 million from the state, $2 million from the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Foundation and $1 million from the MLB Players Association.
This funding, just over $7 million, will go toward building two major-league-size baseball fields, one college-size softball field and one Little League field. The fields should open in summer 2017. Other improvements include a new walking trail around Parade Park and improved basketball and tennis courts and playground.
The project’s second phase, to be built with about $7 million in private donations, calls for constructing a new facility with indoor batting cages, other training rooms and classrooms for both sports and academic studies. Supporters hope to complete that fund-raising by June 30.
“This is one of the best projects that we’ve seen in years,” Mayor Sly James said in describing the initiative to build new inner city ball fields, plus an academy that will provide job training and leadership skills to up to 1,000 young people ages 6 to 18.
While a few other cities around the country have these academies, James and others said they hope Kansas City’s will be the “flagship.” It has been a particular passion of Royals General Manager Dayton Moore, and the Royals will use their baseball operations department, not community relations, to help run the facility.