On the surface, it seemed Garth Brooks came to Kansas City to play five shows at the Sprint Center over three days and spend a May morning at the under-construction Urban Youth Academy playing host to a camp with his beloved Teammates for Kids Foundation.
But the time Brooks, who will play two more concerts in KC next weekend, has spent here won’t be forgotten soon. The Royals announced at the facility near 18th and Vine on Saturday that Brooks and his foundation will undertake the construction of a press box that will serve not only as a space for media but as a classroom for children.
“This has been a labor of love for all of us,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said to a small media group gathered on the academy’s Little League field. “ … We will have a Teammates for Kids educational press box because of their grant. We’re very humbled and honored that we’re going to be able to continue his great work, love on kids, share our lives with kids and grow our community.”
In the press box, which had been part of the original plans for the facility, kids will be able to announce games and learn about the media industry. They’ll also have the opportunity to partake in classes offered in the unit.
With construction halted for the Teammates event, a few dozen kids got a taste of what the Urban Youth Academy will look like when it’s completed. There will be four ball fields — two regulation-sized baseball fields, a full-sized softball field and a field for Little League games. The main building, which will house batting cages, a turf field and instructional spaces, is still in the beginning stages of construction.
Construction on the fields began last April. When fund raising was completed in late January, the Royals and Major League Baseball were able to move ahead with building the indoor facilities for the Urban Youth Academy. The complex, which is located in Parade Park, is on schedule to open in the fall.
Children played Saturday on one of the completed regulation-sized baseball fields. They took part in team relays, stood in the batter’s box against former Royals pitcher Jeff Suppan and received mentoring from Brooks and Royals alumni Jeff Montgomery, Reggie Sanders and Jason Kendall.
“He’s all about the kids and loving on people,” Moore said. “I’d like to think that’s what the spirit with which we’re building this academy is all about as well.”