The Ligue de Baseball Softball de Haute Normandie will host an event on Friday, March 14th to celebrate the opening of four new covered batting cages that will benefit more than 5,400 local baseball and softball players between the ages of 8 and 18. The construction of the new practice facility located at the St Exupéry Stadium in Rouen, France was made possible in part by a $150,000 USD grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund.
Local dignitaries, including Mayor of Rouen, Yvon Robert and President of the Region Haute Normandie, Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, representatives from The Ligue de Baseball Softball de Haute Normandie and the French Baseball Federation, members of the French National Team, including Boris Marche (catcher) and Keino Perez (pitching coach) and more, will join Executive Director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, Cathy Bradley, in a ribbon cutting ceremony starting at 6:00 p.m. (GMT/UTC +1:00) after which, young players and VIPs will be invited to use the new cages for the first time.
The Ligue de Baseball Softball de Haute Normandie is one of the 22 regional associations of the French Baseball Federation, which has 250 clubs across the country. Previously, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund awarded the French Baseball Federation a grant for batting cages at the CREPS (national sports) facility in Toulouse, triggering an uptick in participation. The facilities at the Ligue de Baseball Softball de Haute Normandie serve the Rouen Baseball 76 team (national team), local schools and Pole France, the Rouen National Baseball Academy, which has seen three of its previous attendees drafted by Major League Baseball Clubs including: Alexandre Roy (2012, Seattle Mariners); Joris Bert (2007, Dodgers) and Frederic Hanvi (2007, Twins).
The club has a local school program which serves 12 schools and provides seven-week long clinics for 450 youth players. The Ligue de Baseball Softball de Haute Normandie and the Rouen Baseball Club partnered to construct the batting cages that will add to their existing facilities and support their multiple programs while continuing to grow the games of baseball and softball in France.
"The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is thrilled to award Ligue de Baseball Softball de Haute Normandie this grant that assisted in the construction of four new batting cages at the St Exupéry Stadium," said Cathy Bradley, Executive Director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. "It is exciting to award another grant in France and our hope is that these batting cages will support programming that continues to introduce kids to our National Pastime and grow the games of baseball and softball from the youth level."
"The Ligue de Baseball Softball de Haute Normandie is proud to inaugurate these new batting cages," said Sylvain Virey, Manager of the Rouen Baseball Academy. "Thanks to the support of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, as well as the Ministry of Sports, the Regions Haute Normandy and the Department 76, this addition to our unique facility in France will allow our disciplines to develop and will multiply the possibilities of progress at every level."
About the Baseball Tomorrow Fund
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) is a joint initiative between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball designed to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball throughout the world by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses. Since its formation by the MLBPA and MLB in 1999, BTF has awarded approximately 770 grants totaling more than $26 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia. More than 330,000 youth players have benefited from programs and facilities supported by the fund. BTF also facilitates league-wide initiatives including the collection and distribution of new and gently used equipment to organizations in need as well as field maintenance education clinics. For more information, visit baseballtomorrowfund.com and follow BTF on Facebook, Twitter and MLBlogs.