10/01/2009 11:06 AM ET
Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Charities team up with Tampa Bay Rays and Rays Baseball Foundation to renovate Norma Lloyd baseball complex in Bradenton
Rays pitcher James Shields and Pirates pitcher Matt Capps help make renovations possible
Pirates Charities joined the Rays Baseball Foundation to completely renovate two youth baseball fields within Norma Lloyd Park in Bradenton, Florida. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays officials were on hand today to unveil the renovated complex, which will be used by the Jr. RBI Program of Bradenton.
The renovated complex, in which one field will be branded "Rays Field" and the other "Pirates Field", will feature updated dugouts, new fencing and backstops, new sod, repaired bleachers, soffit repairs, siding repairs and new paint to complex buildings, new benches, new infield clay, outfield windscreens and the replacement of restroom doors and doorframes.
"We are extremely proud to have partnered with the Tampa Bay Rays organization, as well as Matt Capps and the Rays' James Shields, to make the renovation of these fields a reality," said Pirates President Frank Coonelly, at today's unveiling. "The transformation of this complex, much like the Gibson Field renovation in Pittsburgh, will provide a terrific place for underserved youth to play baseball and softball, interact with their peers and learn from their coaches in a productive and safe environment."
This project was the latest effort of the Rays Baseball Foundation's Field Renovation Program. The program, launched in 2006, provides new or renovated youth ball fields to communities throughout the Tampa Bay region. The Rays refurbished the fields at South Brandon and Azalea Little Leagues in 2008, West Tampa Little League in 2007 and historic Oliver Field at Campbell Park in St. Petersburg in 2006.
"The Rays Field Renovation Program continues to grow with the help of contributions from our players like James Shields and in this unique case, a truly meaningful partnership with the Pirates and Matt Capps," said Rays President Matt Silverman. "It is one of many ways the Rays organization and the Rays Baseball Foundation can make a difference in the lives of children throughout Tampa Bay."
The total cost of the renovation was $180,000, with $90,000 each coming from Pirates Charities and the Rays Baseball Foundation. Capps, a Bradenton resident, contributed $50,000 of Pirates Charities total share, and Shields' contributions to the Rays Baseball Foundation could reach $650,000 over the life of his current contract.
The construction of the renovated fields was done by DeLotto General Contractors and Construction Managers and the sod was donated by SMR Farms, both based out of Tampa, Florida. Wal-mart and Bradenton-based Champs Sports are sponsors of the Rays Field Renovation program. In addition, much of the labor in the field renovations was done by Pirates and Rays employees.
The goal of the Rays Baseball Foundation's Field Renovation program is to transform underserved local neighborhood ball fields into first class facilities and ensure children can enjoy the magic of baseball for years to come. The Rays Baseball Foundation determines a field's individual needs through an application process. Those interested in applying for 2010 should check raysbaseball.com under the Community tab for updates.
The Jr. RBI Program, which was newly-developed in April of 2009, is an expansion of Major League Baseball's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative. Jr. RBI is an outreach program that creates playing divisions for children ages six through 12 and is designed to increase participation in baseball and softball, encourage academic participation and achievement and teach the value of teamwork.