On Wednesday, November 10, 2021, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation culminated its 20th anniversary year by unveiling the 100th Youth Development Park (YDP) it has built and gifted across the country. BGE Field at Reedbird Park presented by Kelly Benefits provides a safe place to play and learn for children living in the underserved community of Cherry Hill and other South Baltimore neighborhoods. Since its inception in 2001 the foundation has impacted over 10 million youth through programs as well as the construction of these multi-purpose parks in addition to 138 STEM Centers in elementary and middle schools nationwide. Over the last 12 years, we have raised and gifted back over $113 million to communities across the country through the Youth Development Park initiative. BGE Field marks the 16th YDP constructed in Ripken’s home state of Maryland.
BGE Field presented by Kelly Benefits is a $3 million, 83,000-square-foot waterfront field complex. The field is a major element of the city’s new, sprawling Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center being led by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP), scheduled to open in 2022. It will be home to indoor and outdoor sports, plus three pools and multiple fitness rooms. BGE Field will be multi-use and will support soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball and softball, and will include lights and bleachers for rec leagues and other after school youth programs. Although this field is the brainchild of the CRSF, it would not have come to fruition without the support of many wonderful organizations: South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, BGE, Kelly Benefits, the State of Maryland, Major League Baseball-MLB Players Association Youth Development Foundation, Group 1001, the Baltimore Ravens, Jay and Patty Baker, LISC, Under Armour and Weller Development Company.
“When we started the foundation to honor dad 20 years ago, we never would have imagined the impact we have been able to make,” said Cal Ripken, Jr. Co-Founder of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. “100 of these amazing parks, 137 STEM Centers, and reaching over 11 million underserved kids across the country is something we are very proud of. We always believed that you could do some good on your own but you can do great things with terrific partners, and this is certainly evidence of that. Having our 100th Youth Development Park here in Baltimore makes it that much more special.”
This new field and the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center are part of Reimagine Middle Branch, a community-driven initiative reconnecting South Baltimore to its 11 miles of shoreline along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco. This dynamic project is funded and led by the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP), Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, the Parks & People Foundation and the City of Baltimore. SBGP is an independent governmental body created in 2016 to direct funding provided by the Local Impact Grants generated by video lottery terminals, including at the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, to support the neighborhoods surrounding the Casino in South and Southwest Baltimore.
Senator Frank Kelly, Co-Founder of what is today known as Kelly Benefits and CRSF board member added, “I have had the honor of being part of the Ripken Foundation since near the beginning and it brings me and everyone at Kelly Benefits great happiness when we see all that has been accomplished for kids in need. We are proud of our work in the community and our partnership with Cal and this foundation is extra special.”
Carim Khouzami, President and CEO of Baltimore Gas & Electric stated, “Doing our part to lift up the communities we serve is a priority for everyone at BGE. Our longstanding partnership with the Ripken Foundation is making a meaningful and sustainable impact on the people of Baltimore and we are proud to support this latest project. Kids need safe places to play and learn so they can be kids and this field, along with all the other amazing aspects of the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center, accomplishes exactly that. This is a wonderful day for Cherry Hill and South Baltimore.”
“The construction of this new baseball field will make playing more inclusive and equitable for kids living in Cherry Hill and the greater South Baltimore neighborhood,” said Jean Batrus, Executive Director of MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation. “The project aligns well with the commitment by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to making baseball and softball accessible for all kids. We are proud to work alongside so many leaders to ensure this project is a success.”
“We are thrilled to be celebrating the opening of this field as part of the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center and that the neighborhood and greater South Baltimore communities can begin using it,” say Brad Rogers, Executive Director of the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership. “This is an exciting milestone for both this project and also in supporting the area’s communities; they deserve to have the best resources and amenities right in their neighborhoods and we’re honored to be a part of it.”
"We are excited that the soon-to-come Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center is the chosen destination for the Ripken Foundations’ 100th athletic field,” said Baltimore City Recreation and Parks executive director, Reginald Moore. “Our agency knows the importance of providing our communities with quality recreation options, so we are fortunate to work with partners like the Cal Ripken Sr., Foundation and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership who are essential in helping us achieve this goal. The new BGE Field will empower the local children and families in South Baltimore in more ways than one and we look forward to seeing them enjoy it.”
“We’re pleased to support this incredible community asset through the local impact grants our business helps fund,” said Horseshoe Casino Baltimore Senior Vice President and General Manager Randy Conroy. “This magnificent recreational facility will benefit area families for years to come, and we look forward to witnessing generations of local sports enthusiasts achieve important personal and team milestones as they pursue their passions on this very field.”