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Renovations complete at Houston ballfield

More progress in youth baseball is coming to the resilient Houston area. Houston, which is already the home of one of Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academies, will celebrate another milestone Saturday, thanks to the assistance of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund.

Renovations have been completed at Christy Field -- the home of South Houston Little League -- courtesy of a grant of $234,150 from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, and the local populace will celebrate the repairs and what they mean going forward with a parade Saturday morning.

The grant has revitalized three youth fields, a process that included the installation of Musco Sports Lighting equipment on two of the playing surfaces. Those renovations are expected to benefit more than 500 kids and to help encourage the continued growth of South Houston Little League.

Vincent Collura, president of the South Houston Little League, issued a statement Monday lauding the Baseball Tomorrow Fund for its involvement in improving the existing facility.

"We are so thankful for the many workers and volunteers that have put their time and energy into renovating these fields, including the grant funds provided by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund," said Collura of the charitable endowment. "Hundreds and hundreds of boys and girls in South Houston will be playing the game of baseball at this facility for many years to come."

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund, which was jointly created by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players' Association in 1999, has awarded approximately 600 grants worth more than $21 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations around the world.

More than 300,000 youths have benefitted from programs and facilities supported by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, and Houston's thriving youth baseball culture will only add to the total.

Houston also played host to last month's Urban Invitational, a baseball tournament designed to stress education and involvement to today's youth culture, and also to bring more exposure to baseball programs at historically black colleges and universities.

In addition to the facility in Houston, Major League Baseball operates Urban Youth Academies in Puerto Rico and Compton, Calif., and a new academy is scheduled to open this summer in New Orleans. There are plans for future academies in South Florida and Philadelphia.

Houston will hold a parade at 9:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be staged at 10 a.m. with several local dignitaries. South Houston Mayor Joe Soto, state representative Carol Alvarado and South Houston city councilwoman Amy Leal will be part of the proceedings.

So will Cathy Bradley, the executive director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, and representatives from the Houston Economic Development office. Bradley issued a statement Monday as part of an official press release, and she used the form to talk about the importance of the project.

"The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is honored to provide funding for renovations to Christy Field," said Bradley. "We applaud South Houston Little League's effort to encourage youth participation in baseball and softball, and we believe that the renovations to the fields will certainly expand participation in the game. We would also like to express our sincere thanks to Musco Sports Lighting for its continued support of our grant recipients. Musco's expertise and generous discount on top-quality lighting equipment make ambitious projects like this one attainable."