Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa and Cal Ripken foundation to create $1M synthetic-turf baseball field in Sulphur Springs

TAMPA — City Hall on Thursday unveiled a $1 million partnership with the nonprofit Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to create a synthetic-turf youth baseball field in Sulphur Springs.

The city has pledged $500,000 toward the new field at Spring­hill Park Community Center south of Busch Boulevard, with the other half coming from the foundation.

Established by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.'s family, the organization has built 34 youth development parks in poor neighborhoods. "These kids do not have a safe place to play outside in neighborhood after neighborhood across the country," foundation president Steve Salem said.

But "when you bring the right group of people together, no matter where you are, it can really change the trajectory of their lives," he said. "We set out to build the nicest park these kids are ever going to have the opportunity to play on, regardless of where they go in life."

The foundation's newest field is in Hartford, Conn., but its first was in Baltimore, where the parks director was Greg Bayor. He brought the idea to Tampa when Mayor Bob Buckhorn hired him as the city's parks and recreation director in 2012.

"He has harangued me for three years," Buckhorn said. "I kept telling him, 'No, we don't have the money. No, we don't have the money.' Finally, I said, 'Greg, I think we've got the money.' "

The foundation plans to begin what it hopes will be a three- to six-month campaign in Tampa to raise its $500,000 contribution to the project.

"If we don't raise it, we're going to contribute it out of our operating resources," Salem said.

It aims to begin construction in March so the new field can be ready by the summer. In addition to the new turf, the field will have new dugouts, a relocated scoreboard and bleachers.

Once it's open, the foundation says it will stay involved with clinics and character education programs, including "Badges for Baseball," which teams law enforcement mentors with at-risk youngsters.

For Tampa, the field will bring one more asset to a neighborhood that Buckhorn said was "teetering on the precipice."

In the past several years, the city has bulldozed dozens of vacant, abandoned houses in Sulphur Springs and hired contractors to build new homes on the empty lots. It also has added police patrols, code enforcement officers, trash pickup sweeps and new streetlights.

But Buckhorn said what Sulphur Springs still needs is opportunities for kids.

"This will be one more place that the young people who live here in Sulphur Springs will have to come to with adult supervision, with good role models, away from the dangers of the streets, away from the drug dealers, away from the broken homes," he said. "They can come here and be little kids and learn the value of athletics."

.Fast facts

On the Web

To learn more and

to contribute, go to

Tampa and Cal Ripken foundation to create $1M synthetic-turf baseball field in Sulphur Springs 10/23/14 [Last modified: Thursday, October 23, 2014 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. State House leader Corcoran urges Congress to back Trump tax cuts


    TAMPA — At a time when President Donald Trump's relations with Congress grow frayed, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran lined up solidly with Trump Tuesday in urging Congress members from Florida to back the president's tax-cutting legislation.

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran backs the supply-side economic theory that cutting federal taxes for business owners would result in more jobs for others. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  2. Tampa's Oaklawn Cemetery placed on National Register of Historic Places

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Oaklawn Cemetery, Tampa's first public graveyard, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

    Tampa's Oaklawn and neighboring St. Louis cemeteries just north of downtown have been added to the National Register of  Historic Places. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
  3. Romano: Love to hear your Nazi speech, but I'm washing my hair

    Human Interest

    A year ago, he was racism's favorite twerp.

    Richard Spencer, center in sunglasses, and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police after hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clashed with anti-fascist protesters and police in August in Charlottesville, Va. [Getty Images]
  4. Editorial: More work needed to stem juvenile car thefts


    There is more bad news than good about Pinellas County's juvenile car theft epidemic. The good news is that arrests ticked down slightly last year — a sign that law enforcement may be beginning to contain the problem. The bad: Reports of stolen vehicles in Pinellas are up this year, and the problem may be …

    There is more bad news than good about Pinellas County’s juvenile car theft epidemic.
  5. Bucs safety Chris Conte became a father during Sunday's loss at Arizona


    Chris Conte attempts to tackle Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. [AP photo]