Granderson pledges funds for new stadium
Current New York Yankee Curtis Granderson grew up as a youth in Chicago playing the game he loved, baseball. Now he's looking to give back to Chicago in the form of pledging funding for a new multi-million dollar stadium on the campus of UIC, where Granderson once played. He announced the gift--the stadium will become the home stadium for the Flames baseball team--at the inagural Diamond Dinner, where Granderson had his No. 28 jersey retired. Construction is set to begin this fall and has a timetable of two years to be completed.
“Being a baseball player is such a small piece of who Curtis really is as a person,” UIC Head Baseball Coach Mike Dee said in a press release. “I think this gift demonstrates where his heart is and his sense of social responsibility. I’m really proud of him as a person and I’m proud he came from this program.”
In addition to a new home for the team he once played for, Granderson is looking to make the stadium--which will be named Curtis Granderson Stadium--a place for area youth to have a safe place to play. Granderson will team up with Major League Baseball, Chicago Public Schools and various organizations in the area to make this possible. Of those organizations, MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and Urban Youth Academy (UYA) will be the main partners with Granderson.
“I started playing baseball when I was six years old and friendships I had at that point I still have today,” Granderson said. “You learn teamwork, leadership, discipline and also how to fail and succeed – things you don’t realize at the time how beneficial they are going to be moving forward. You’re going to have to set goals and work hard to accomplish them. That’s what baseball has done for me, and hopefully that’s what baseball will do for the youth in Chicago.”
RBI, which began in 1989, has established more than 300 programs around the globe for more than 20,000 male and female participants. More than 200 RBI alums have been drafted into the Majors, including Granderson's teammate, pitcher CC Sabathia. Major League Baseball and its 30 teams have donated more than $30 million to the program.
UIC, which it believes will receive the largest donation in its athletics history, will also bring an educational aspect to the programs run within the facility.
“The educational aspect is important to me, and it’s all going to take place right here in the inner-city,” Granderson said. “We have diversity, minorities and it’s all under a university setting.”