Baseball is America’s pastime. The game traces roots back to the 1800s. In recent years, however, the future of the sport has been a topic of conversation with the average age of viewership increasing and the number of kids playing the sport decreasing.
In 2006, Major League Baseball went to work to increase the accessibility of the game to kids in urban areas by creating the MLB Youth Academy. Not only does the academy teach baseball and softball, but it also adds educational components to help prepare students for the classroom. Seeing the impact of the program, more and more MLB teams have started adding academies to their communities.
One recent example is the Philadelphia Phillies Urban Youth Academy where youth are getting a better, more professional experience after a renovation to the historic Franklin D. Roosevelt Park. The upgrade prominently features precast concrete.
The project updated two existing softball fields while adding a shared press box and dugouts. Precast concrete Easi-Set Buildings were selected for the structures because of their affordability, durability and aesthetics.
“The dugouts make the fields look much more professional and upscale and are comfortable for the players,” said Rob Holiday, director of Amateur Scouting Administration with the Philadelphia Phillies. “The press box helps give our staff shelter from the elements, and we can provide music and announce the batters during the games. The whole facility looks much better with the additions.”
The two-story press box has interior circular stair access and sliding windows on adjacent sides for scouts to watch the two different ballfields. All the buildings have a splitface block finish and were set on stone bases. Installation took one day for both the dugouts and an additional day to set the press box.
Oldcastle Infrastructure’s Easton, Pa., facility produced the Easi-Set Buildings for the project.
“It was truly a pleasure to work with Phillies Charities and the construction team on this important expansion for the youth of the Philadelphia region,” said David Worthington, buildings manager at Oldcastle Infrastructure. “The training and instruction that kids receive at the Urban Youth Academy is topnotch and has led to college scholarships and professional contracts. This renovated first-class facility hopefully adds to the already quality program.”
The project is yet another example of the versatility of precast concrete products. Whether it’s above ground products such dugouts and a press box or walls that tell a critical story, or underground products such as a massive, custom junction box, precast rises to the challenge, and in Philadelphia, gives kids the hope to play in the big leagues.