If you build it, they will come. That's the idea behind the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation's latest project. They're aiming to bring 50 new youth sports fields to cities across the country.
They're targeting areas known to be rough around the edges, in hopes of reaching out to underprivileged youth. They're building state of the art fields, boasting turf grass, new scoreboards, and nets. Each youth parks runs about $1 million, and the group hopes it open new doors for the kids.
"If you ever see one of these fields, they look beautiful, and they'll look beautiful for the next 10 years, next 15, next 20 years. When you place them in there it is really a gem in a really rough area," said Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr.
They've already built a handful of fields in Maryland. One of them, Park Heights Youth Development Park, just opened its gates this month.
"If you look around, kids are going to be walking around these streets and they have choices. They can either walk down that way and do some of the things we don't want them to do, or they can walk this way. And we want to attract them over here," said Chuck Brady, the Vice President of the foundation.
By the end of 2013, they'll have 26 fields open to future sluggers.
"The fields are beautiful by themselves, but they're really beautiful when the kids are playing on them," Ripken said.
The new parks are the start of a turnaround in some neighborhoods.
"I'm standing on the goal line of the new ball field," said Brady. "About a year ago, this was the middle of a street. This whole area here was old housing that had been run down, in disrepair, a lot of it boarded up."
The idea behind the project is not only to give the kids a new outlet, but to encourage adults to come out alongside them, ready to throw a ball, play catch, and teach new lessons through sports.