The Kansas City Urban Youth Academy broke ground a little over 18 months ago, and its front doors just officially opened in March. But the inner-city, state-of-the-art baseball and softball complex is already making leaps and bounds to ensure its only purpose isn’t just the game played on the field.
Overlooking Field 3, the field nearest the front parking lot, a modern building stands between set of bleachers. On non-game days, the building is relatively barren, with a couple of microphones and a soundboard lying on a desk.
But members of the academy aren’t planning for this broadcast booth to empty for much longer.
In the near future, the academy is hoping to put the booth to use in further educating Kansas City's urban youth.
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Donated by singer and songwriter Garth Brooks while the academy was still under construction, the broadcast booth was built to offer kids to get hands-on experience broadcasting a baseball or softball game.
“We're looking at both broadcasting, in-game entertainment and production, and you can also throw in your analytics, your stats,” said Angel McGee, manager of communications and outreach at the academy. “So from up here, we have a team watching and analyzing the game from the numbers perspective.”
The academy already offers educational facilities inside its classrooms overlooking its indoor practice field. But no options currently exist for working on live, competitive games.
The booth will allow youths interested in the broadcast field an opportunity to work alongside industry professionals, learning to broadcast and announce games that take place at the academy.
“It actually opens a pipeline, because doing that here is the same thing being done at Kauffman Stadium,” McGee said. “So we can open up that door and open up that line for them to experience it here and then be a segue way to Kauffman Stadium for an internship, or just more exposure."
For now, the booth is still offering the academy a chance to expand its ability to host collegiate and semi-professional games. The University of Iowa and Missouri State competed in a softball game here in March, and their broadcast crews were given the chance to operate in the booth.
McGee hopes the exposure gained from hosting collegiate games will pave the way for the academy to host other high-profile games and tournaments.
The academy is still looking for the right person to run its broadcast program on a day-to-day basis. Once it’s up and running, McGee’s ultimate goal for the program is for kids to find a passion for working in the booth, and then consider making that passion their career.