ST. PETERSBURG -- In the shadow of Tropicana Field, the Campbell Park Field rededication took place Friday morning.
Rays infielder Tim Beckham, team president Brian Auld, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and over 20 students from Campbell Park Elementary School were on hand for the ceremony that took place at home plate. Rays pre- and postgame radio broadcaster Neil Solondz emceed the event.
The field renovation was financed by the Rays Baseball Foundation at a cost of $40,000, and the manual labor was provided by the St. Petersburg Parks & Recreation department and Rays groundskeepers.
"If I was a kid growing up here taking ground balls and looking at Tropicana Field behind me, it would definitely give me a lot of motivation," Beckham said. "It looks great, and I know the kids are ready to get out there and play."
Beckham looked out at the field and smiled: "I feel like having a field like this gives the kids more structure and more unity to get out here and play with their peers."
The field is part of the Rays Baseball Foundation's Field Renovation grant program and will provide young boys and girls in St. Petersburg a new and safe place to play ball.
Auld spoke briefly, telling the audience that the project was "such a good example of what we can do when we partner with the city."
After Mayor Kriseman spoke, he, Beckham, and Auld all squatted behind home and caught ceremonial first pitches from some of the kids in attendance. The kids then ran the bases before receiving gifts from the Rays.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.