PHILADELPHIA, Pa., April 13, 2012 – It’s an inside-the-park homerun! Today, the Fairmount Park Conservancy in partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Ryan Howard Family Foundation and Citizens Bank Foundation dedicated a brand new baseball field in Hunting Park. City of Philadelphia Mayor A. Michael Nutter and Phillies’ Ryan Howard joined in today’s celebration. The field’s $717,000 restoration is a part of the Hunting Park Revitalization Project, a long-term comprehensive plan led by the Fairmount Park Conservancy to turn the 87-acre park into a safe and well-maintained space that will provide a place for healthy recreation for children and families, bring neighborhoods together and serve as a catalyst for larger neighborhood renewal.
“This ball field is the result of years of hard work by many partner organizations on behalf of the Hunting Park community,” said Mayor Nutter. “When the City can partner with private foundations like the Ryan Howard Family Foundation and non-profit organizations like Fairmount Park Conservancy, we can accomplish anything. Today, we’ve reached our goal of providing a safe, state-of-the-art baseball facility for the Hunting Park Indians and every young person that wants to play American’s favorite pastime.”
According to Kathryn Ott Lovell, Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, the new baseball field in Hunting Park represents the positive changes happening in that park and the surrounding neighborhoods due to the Hunting Park Revitalization Project.
“The new baseball field is a symbol of great things happening in Hunting Park and it is a source of pride for the community,” she said. “This field enhances the park, supports expanding programming and will increase park usage. For the first time in many years, Hunting Park can host home baseball games. We are thankful for our dedicated funders for helping us make this dream a reality for the Hunting Park community.”
Improvements to the Hunting Park baseball field include:
Regrading and resurfacing the play area with new turf and sand/clay infield with warning track
Perimeter fencing to highlight the field
New backstop, dugouts, benches, bleachers, pathways and a landscape that creates a seamless connection to the surrounding park
Scoreboard: Electrical labor was donated by IBEW 98 and the Hunting Park Indians Baseball League raised 10% of the cost of the scoreboard
“Hunting Park is 87 acres of possibility; right in the middle of a vibrant, diverse and growing neighborhood, there isn’t another neighborhood park like it in our entire system,” said Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources, Michael DiBerardinis. “I thank The Fairmount Park Conservancy, The Ryan Howard Foundation and the Citizens Bank Foundation for adding to this park and neighborhood by revitalizing the baseball field. Youth baseball registration has quadrupled since we broke ground on the field.”
The Ryan Howard Family Foundation has provided a total of $150,000 towards the Hunting Park Revitalization Project. The Foundation provided the first donation to the Hunting Park Revitalization Project in 2009, which was also the first grant that the Foundation ever made to an organization or project. In addition to the major financial contribution, the Ryan Howard Family Foundation provided more than 200 holiday meals and winter coats and gloves to Hunting Park residents. The Foundation also provided new uniforms and baseball equipment to the Hunting Park Indians Baseball League.
“Since baseball is where my heart is, I understand what a field like this can mean to this neighborhood and the young people who live here,” said Ryan Howard. “I hope it will help foster dreams and build confidence for the young athletes of the Hunting Park Indians, and that it will spark positive change for the park and community. My family and I are consistently amazed by the great work being done by the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and we are committed to this effort.”
The Citizens Bank Foundation donated $40,000 for the baseball field project. It has also supported the continued revitalization of Hunting Park with a $20,000 donation to the Fairmount Park Conservancy for the Community Garden, which provides residents access to fresh produce.
“The Citizens Bank Foundation is pleased to support the revitalization of one of the city’s most treasured urban parks,” said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, Citizens Bank President and CEO for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. “We’re excited to join with the Ryan Howard Family Foundation and the many community partners to bring the new baseball field to the citizens of the Hunting Park neighborhood.”
Today’s dedication ceremony featured a performance by Cayuga Elementary School’s choir and remarks by Mayor Nutter; Ott Lovell; Deputy Mayor DiBerardinis; State Representative Tony Payton; Fitzpatrick and representatives from the Hunting Park Indians Baseball League. Following the remarks, the Phillie Phanatic led event attendees onto the field for a ceremonial first pitch. The Hunting Park Indians Baseball League concluded the celebration with a baseball game between players and coaches on the new field.
The event this afternoon also highlighted the other completed and in-progress projects in Phase One of the Hunting Park Revitalization Project. The Fairmount Park Conservancy has raised $3.7 million for Phase One and is currently managing the reconstruction of the park’s football field and the installation of new lighting along the loop road. Other projects within Phase One include lighting improvements, a community garden, two new playgrounds, a Youth Environmental Stewardship Program, creation of a Farmers’ Market and new tennis courts.
Supporters of the Hunting Park Revitalization Project include Cindy and John Affleck; Citizens Bank Foundation; City of Philadelphia; The Honorable Darrell L. Clarke; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Convergence Partnership of the Tides Foundation; KaBOOM!; Patricia Kind; Laura and Marc McKenna; McLean Contributionship; Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; Pennsylvania State Representative Tony Payton; The Honorable Maria Quinones-Sanchez; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; The Ryan Howard Family Foundation; NFL Grassroots/LISC; United States Tennis Association; Edith R. Dixon; Dorrance H. Hamilton 99 Charitable Trust; FMC Corporation; Energy Coordinating Agency; and Growing the Neighborhood sponsors ACE Group; MedRisk; NovaCare Rehabilitation; PRWT Services, Inc.; TD Bank Foundation; and U.S. Facilities, Inc.
For more information about the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Hunting Park Revitalization Project, please visit www.myphillypark.org. Like the Fairmount Park Conservancy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fairmountparkconservancy and follow the organization on Twitter @MyPhillyPark.