On Friday the Royals announced a partnership in conjunction with the city of Kansas City, Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, and the Negro League Baseball Museum to develop the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy. The Academy will offer instruction in baseball and softball to local youths while also providing educational and leadership opportunities. The $14 million project will include baseball and softball fields, basketball and tennis courts, a walking trail, playgrounds, and improvements to the area surrounding the Negro League Baseball Museum at 18th and Vine.
According to the Kansas City Business Journal:
Moore said the Royals are deeply committed to growing baseball in the community and the region. "The Kansas City Urban Youth Academy," he said, "will provide special opportunities for boys and girls to develop their baseball and softball skills while, most importantly, growing as leaders."
In addition to free year-round baseball and softball instruction and play, the academy will provide access to tutoring programs, college prep classes, college and career fairs, financial literacy and internship programs, courses teaching math through the use of baseball statistics, and MLB industry alternative career workshops. Participants also will have opportunities to be involved in drug-resistance and gang-prevention programs and healthy lifestyle classes.
The Academy looks to support up to 1,000 kids each year and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.
Major League Baseball has been criticized in years past for not doing more to attract African-American youths to the game of baseball, with a lack of access to fields and instruction cited as a major barrier to the game. This Academy could go a long way to extending the rich tradition of baseball played in Kansas City, a city that has produced outstanding ballplayers like Casey Stengel, David Cone, and Royals Hall of Famer Frank White.