NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a partnership between New York State, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Harlem RBI to create a youth baseball and softball academy at Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx. The academy will immediately serve at least 1,500 youth at Roberto Clemente State Park, tripling the number currently participating in the park’s baseball programs. The renovated baseball and softball facility will be funded by $6.5 million in state funding, $4 million from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, and $750,000 from New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez, and will be renamed the MLB Youth Academy at Roberto Clemente State Park.
“We must invest in the next generation of New Yorkers and give them every opportunity to grow and succeed,” Governor Cuomo said. “Ensuring our communities have safe areas for outdoor activities is fundamental to a child’s upbringing and this great partnership will provide the children of the Bronx an exceptional new facility and the opportunity to develop essential skills they will draw on throughout their lives.”
With support from this partnership, State Parks will build a multi-purpose field to the north of the existing baseball field, where Harlem RBI will offer both baseball and softball programming. The Roberto Clemente State Park site will dramatically increase the number of youth Harlem RBI serves. Although open to all New York City youth, the MLB Youth Academy at Roberto Clemente State Park will serve as a central location for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) programs in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. The facility will be administered and operated by Harlem RBI, which will supply all umpiring fees, basic baseball equipment and provide transportation options for teams to get to and from the state park. Official baseball programming will begin in spring 2017 with softball starting on the new multi-purpose field upon its completion in spring 2018. Harlem RBI expects to immediately serve at least 1,500 youth at Roberto Clemente State Park, tripling the number of youth currently participating in the park’s baseball programs.
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees 14 time All-Star and 4th on the all-time Home Run list, said, “It’s an honor to partner with MLB, Governor Cuomo, MLBPA, the State Parks department and Harlem RBI on a project that will bring a top notch baseball field and programming to kids in the Bronx. These kids already have a special connection to baseball since Yankee Stadium is right in their backyard. I hope this park will give them a chance to experience the game and dream big from the field as well as in the stands.”
Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said, “Major League Baseball, the players and clubs have prioritized giving young people, particularly those in underserved communities, the opportunity to play baseball and softball. We are proud to be a part of this public-private project to develop the MLB Youth Academy at Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx, which we believe will establish the next generation of New York’s baseball legacy.”
Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark said, “The Major League Baseball Players Association is honored to be joining with our longest-tenured member, Alex Rodriguez, Major League Baseball, the State of New York and Harlem RBI, to fund the creation of the MLB Youth Academy at Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx. For as long as the game has been played, baseball and New York have had a special relationship, and the creation of the MLB Youth Academy in the Bronx will only serve to strengthen this bond. Combining the Youth Academy model with the great work of Harlem RBI will help provide New York City youth with additional opportunities to develop their athletic and life skills in a fun and safe environment.”
As a participant in youth development programs since a young age, New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez has been a long-time supporter of organizations that use sports as a catalyst to develop the skills students need to succeed in the classroom, their communities and their future careers. His work with Harlem RBI is a continuation of these efforts, and in recognition of his $750,000 contribution to the program, the new field at Roberto Clemente State Park will be named “Alex Rodriguez Field.”