The complex is being built in Sylvester Turner Park in the 28-hundred block of West Little York, not far from the intersection with TC Jester.
State Representative Turner says the Urban Youth Academy will open early in 20-10 and serve 25-hundred kids a year from across the city. He says Major League Baseball, the Astros, the city and the state will pay for the complex.
“In addition to what’s already been put in the park, all those components have put in another $1.6-million, and then Major League Baseball and the Astros have committed for ten years to putting in over $400-thousand a year.”
Major League Baseball will ultimately run the academy with the goal of making the game as available to city kids as are basketball and football. This is MLB’s Darrell Miller.
“It’s about baseball in America and we want to make sure that baseball is accessible and softball is accessible to all the boys and girls that really want to and desire to play.”
The number of African Americans playing baseball professionally was at its peak in the 70’s and has fallen off since then. Astro’s outfielder Michael Bourn says the way to turn that around is to make baseball available to more city kids.
“Football and basketball is mostly promoted to ’em, they don’t really get the chance to look at baseball. They can play baseball as a sport just as well as they can play football and basketball, but they don’t know it because they wait to long to start playing it.”
But Darrell Miller says this Urban Youth Academy is much more than just learning to play the game.
“No, it’s about all the other things you do around baseball. We want kids to think about how they become a broadcaster, a radio person like your self. They can be an athletic trainer, an athletic turf manager, they can be anything they want to be in baseball operations, a scout, player development, coach and they can do that for life because we’re trying to build baseball lifers because as we all know not everyone we see is going to play in the major leagues.”
For Sylvester Turner a project that revitalizes the community and is centered of kids is about as good a deal as you can get.
“You couldn’t have asked for much, much more and it’s happening right here in Acres Homes. So I’m very, very proud of it.”
Rod Rice. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.