Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation Holds Virtual Groundbreaking for New Field at Reedbird Park in Cherry Hill

| September 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation held a virtual groundbreaking today for BGE Field presented by KELLY, which is a new synthetic surface field coming to Reedbird Park in Cherry Hill. The 83,000 sq. ft. field is part of the larger redevelopment of Reedbird Park by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP).

Reedbird Park is located on the southern end of Cherry Hill along the Patpasco River and adjacent to Potee St./Rt 2. Adam Boarman, chief of capital development for BCRP, told SouthBMore.com in June that it’s a beautiful site, but very underutilized. Along with the splash park, it has two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a playground, paths connecting to the Gwynns Falls Trail, and a large grass field. It also has a small fishing pier on the river.

The current location of the playground and sports courts, which sit adjacent to Potee St., will be replaced by BGE Field presented by KELLY. The field will be set up for field sports like soccer, lacrosse, and football, as well as be positioned so that baseball and softball can take place on the field. It will have lights and bleachers.

The field is expected to be completed in Spring 2021.

South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP), which manages half of South Baltimore’s casino Local Impact Funds, is putting more than $750,000 into this $2.25-million project. Additional donors include BGE, KELLY, the Baltimore Ravens, Jay and Patty Baker, Under Armour, and Weller Development.

BCRP will operate a variety of after-school sports programs and the Ripken Foundation will run its Badges for Baseball program which has police officers coaching youth baseball teams.

This is the 100th field that will be built by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. The first was at the site of the former Memorial Stadium in Waverly.

“The fact that we have been able to build one hundred of these beautiful and transformational parks in areas of need across the country makes me really proud,” said Cal Ripken, Jr., co-founder of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, in a press release. “It is extra special and only fitting that field number one hundred is right here in Baltimore, serving kids in our city.”

Ripken, Jr. added, “When we started the Foundation 19 years ago in the name of dad, we never imagined that we would have had this kind of impact, and it is with the help of many terrific donors and partners like BGE, KELLY, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, and the State of Maryland, that we are able to accomplish this and continue to make a difference for kids.”

Ripken, Jr. said during the virtual ceremony that the goal of the fields are not necessarily to produce the next Major League Baseball players, but to use baseball to help kids and “tap into the magic of that.”

The 35,000 sq. ft., $23.1-million Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center will be a major part of the redevelopment of Reedbird Park. It will celebrate its groundbreaking on September 21st and be located at Reedbird Ave. and Seamon Ave. It will be fronted by a new community plaza and have three separate pools including a lap pool, a plunge pool with a slide, and a wading pool for kids; an open area with fitness and gym equipment; studios for fitness classes; a gymnasium with a basketball court; and a maker space. A second-story walking track will travel through all the different sections of the building.

Funding for the Fitness and Wellness Center includes City and State bonds, Community Development Block Grant funds, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Program Open Space, a surtax on Horseshoe Casino’s table games for City recreation programs, and Casino Local Impact Fund Grants overseen by SBGP and by the City through the Casino Local Development Council.

Adjacent to the turf field will be three grass fields. In a second phase, lights and a walking path around the fields will be added. The fields will eventually have a field house.

The fields will open before the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center is completed.

A 100-space parking lot will be built just west of the center and just north of the three grass fields.

BCRP has teamed with GWWO Architects and Floura Teeter Landscape Architects on the plan.

A second phase of the project will add a dog park and two outdoor basketball courts along Reedbird Ave. and a playground located in-between the sports fields.

Boarman said he would eventually like to see some invasive species management along the waterfront which currently blocks views of the water. He also said it would be great to do a boardwalk along the water one day, but said that is not currently in the budget.

“Baltimore City Recreation and Parks is honored by the opportunity to bring Baltimore its first-ever regional recreation facility,” said BCRP Executive Director Reginald Moore in a press release. “We look forward to the day when this new center becomes Baltimore’s standard of recreation.”

“As a product of East Baltimore recreation centers, it is one of my main goals to constantly grow and improve the city’s recreation options,” said Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in a press release. “The new Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center will not only serve as the recreation hub for the South Baltimore communities but will also reimagine the way Baltimore City enjoys recreation as a whole.”

Rendering courtesy of  BCRP, GWWO Architects, and Floura Teeter Landscape Architects (click to enlarge)

Renderings courtesy of  BCRP and GWWO Architects

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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