ARLINGTON -- The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, the city of Southlake and the Miracle League of Southlake broke ground on the new Texas Rangers Miracle League Field housed in Bicentennial Park on Wednesday. The field will join facilities in Arlington, Frisco and Irving as the fourth used by the Miracle League of Dallas-Fort Worth, an organization that helps special-needs children enjoy America's pasttime.
Several current Rangers players, alumni and front-office members were on hand to participate in the honorary dirt shoveling to kick off the renovations, including second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Elvis Andrus. Andrus, who opened the Emilio Andrus Baseball Academy in Venezuela, knows the importance of being given an opportunity to get on the field.
"It means a lot ... to be part of this," Andrus said. "You get to see a lot of new kids and just to make them happy, to see a smile on their face -- that's really priceless for us."
The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation made a donation of $100,000 toward the building of the new field, which features a cushioned rubberized surface designed to help prevent injuries and accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. Southlake Mayor John Terrell praised the Rangers' willingness to provide assistance and facilitate future opportunities for kids with special needs.
"This is a great day for the city of Southlake," Terrell said. "We're excited to break ground today on the next wave of improvements here at Bicentennial Park. These improvements will enhance the opportunities for kids with special needs to not only enjoy America's pastime but play in an area that let's kids be kids."
The field is part of a larger renovation project for the city's oldest park. Additional upgrades include a new concession/restroom facility, walking trails, a new park maintenance facility, parking, enhanced landscape, and a 1.3 acre custom playground.
Worldwide, the Miracle League grants over 200,000 children and young adults with special needs the opportunity to play the game of baseball.
"It just brings baseball everywhere," said Kinsler. "Whether it is inner cities or Miracle Leagues like this, that is what I like to be a part of. Bringing baseball to kids that normally might not have it or might not be able to play it and the Foundation does a great job of that."
Construction is scheduled to be completed for the 2014 fall season.
Alan H. Rose is a contributor to TexasRangers.com.