SBD/March 27, 2014/Facilities

Nationals Finally Open Nearly $18M Youth Baseball Academy In DC

The Nationals' Youth Baseball Academy "is finally open," as the "ambitious, gleaming building that cost nearly $18 million welcomed its first class of children three weeks ago and will be officially unveiled Saturday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony before the Nationals’ exhibition game" against the Tigers, according to James Wagner of the WASHINGTON POST. Third- and fourth-graders "fill the 18,000-square-foot, two-floor facility after school, learning to play baseball and softball on its three artificial turf fields and doing their homework and extra classwork under the watchful eyes of mentors in the seven upstairs classrooms." Nationals Principal Owner Marla Lerner Tanenbaum said, "The culture of baseball in Washington needs to be revived. The culture of inner city baseball, especially in African American communities, needs a jolt." Tanenbaum, who is also Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Chair, said that the "biggest hurdle" in establishing the academy was "securing the land from the National Park Service, which finally gave its permission" in '10. The Nationals "began construction a year later." She said that the city donated $10.2M of the $17.7M cost of construction, and added that the team and Dream Foundation combined to give $3M "in addition to the charity wing’s commitment of $250,000 a year for operating costs for 10 years." MLB donated $1M, and "several companies also made contributions." The academy to reach capacity "will add a class of about 40 third-graders each summer until it fills each level through eighth grade." Everything, "even learning, is tied to baseball to make it fun" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/27).
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