Author: Glenn Stephens

MLB Youth Foundation Reassessing Plans for Youth Academy at George Ward Park

“It’s truly a sad day for Birmingham,” Birmingham City Councilor William Parker said Tuesday after revealing that Major League Baseball Youth Foundation was “reassessing” its plans to build a youth academy at the city’s George Ward Park.

The announcement preceded a long series of monologues from councilors, Mayor Randall Woodfin and members of the public, all of whom had differing opinions on what had scuttled the deal. Some councilors attributed the MLBYF’s decision to a racially charged campaign by residents who opposed the academy. But others, including Council President Valerie Abbott and several members of the public who spoke at the meeting, pinned the plan’s apparent failure on a lack of communication between the council and neighborhood associations.

Eventually, the council opted to set a public meeting with residents to clarify details about the project — which councilors said they hoped would save the deal with the MLBYF.

The Major League Baseball Youth Foundation had planned to construct a $10 million youth academy in the 120-acre George Ward Park, located in the city’s Glen Iris neighborhood. The academy, which would take up about 20 acres, would serve as a free, year-round training center — for baseball, softball, and “life skills,” according to the MLBYF’s proposed contract with the city — for the city’s youth. There are 11 such academies throughout the country; it would be the first for Alabama. Read more.