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Astros Urban Youth Academy set to open Ribbon-cutting for baseball facility to be held Saturday

By Brian McTaggart /

04/06/10 9:20 PM ET

HOUSTON — Nearly 16 months after Major League Baseball, the city of Houston and the Astros announced plans to build the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy, the project is set for its grand opening Saturday.

The ribbon-cutting will take place at 11 a.m. CT at Sylvester Turner Park on Houston’s north side, with local politicians, Major League Baseball officials and players and staff from the Astros on hand to assist with the opening of the facility, which is the second of its kind.

Following the grand opening, Texas state Rep. Sylvester Turner will play host to the Third Annual Family Day in the Park for the Acres Homes community from 2-7 p.m. CT. The event, which is free and open to the public, includes food and beverages, T-shirts and games for kids, baseball exhibitions and other activities.

The Academy will have a show field; permanent seating for 500 fans, with space for an additional 1,800 fans; dugouts and lights; one auxiliary field; two Little League/softball fields; and 1,500 square feet of office space and other facilities.

Since the groundbreaking on Sept. 25, the show field has been added, as well as a building that will feature office space, a team room for educational programming and meetings, equipment storage space and a special events room.

“It’s truly been a team effort thus far, and the Houston Astros and the Astros In Action Foundation look forward to making a significant impact through the Urban Youth Academy programs and activities for many years to come,” said Marian Harper, Astros vice president for foundation development. “Year-round baseball and softball instruction, youth teams and leagues and educational programs will be offered at the Academy, which will provide a great place for our children to learn about all opportunities available to them on the field and in the front office.”

Among the dignitaries scheduled to attend the opening are Turner, Astros owner Drayton McLane and president of business operations Pam Gardner, Mayor Annise Parker, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and MLB’s president and chief operating officer Bob Dupuy and executive vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon.

Astros manager Brad Mills and third-base coach Dave Clark will be on hand, along with former Houston players Jimmy Wynn, Larry Dierker and Enos Cabell and current Astros outfielder Michael Bourn. Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith and general manager Ed Wade will also attend.

“Most of the work is done and we’re ready to roll,” Gardner said. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re ready for it.”

The Astros and Major League Baseball teamed to donate $600,000 to the project, a number matched by former Mayor Bill White and the city of Houston. The Astros and MLB also agreed to assume the costs and run the facility for the next 10 years.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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