The news conference stage at Parade Park, site of the Urban Baseball Youth Academy was arranged with open space and empty basketball courts in the background.
The space will be filled by fields for baseball and softball. The courts will be replaced and updated with the help of the Big 12.
In what the conference expects to be the first in a series of legacy projects at the site of the men’s basketball tournament, the Big 12 announced Wednesday it will contribute $25,000 toward two new courts.
“We believe in the community, and especially projects like this,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.
As he was being interviewed by reporters, Bowlsby accepted congratulations from Kansas City Mayor Sly James.
“Thank you for doing this,” James said.
The announcement came a week after Royals catcher Salvador Perez pledged $1 million for the Academy and the City Council’s finance committee endorsed $2,052,000 in city funds for the park that will be operated by the Royals.
Outfielder Alex Gordon and pitcher Chris Young joined Perez in making donations.
So has the Big 12. The conference had expressed an interest in participating in a legacy project, an idea that has taken root in college basketball. The NCAA works with the host city to fund projects, and the Big 12 played host to the Final Four in 2014 in Arlington, Texas.
One of the projects then was improvements to a Dallas recreation center with funding by the NCAA and Big 12.
Starting with the Academy, the Big 12 has taken the idea to a conference tournament level.
The academy will be in Parade Park between Truman Road and 17th Terrace, and the Paseo and Woodland Avenue. It’s expected to open in the summer of 2017.
“It’s a way for us to say we appreciate Kansas City and we want to have an ongoing position in the city, and in combination with that we want to help kids,” Bowlsby said. “This was a pretty easy decision for us.”