All-Star Legacy projects in Denver revealed
DENVER -- When an All-Star Game comes to town and leaves after much excitement and fanfare, the impact can last for decades to come.
Jim Kellogg, the Rockies’ vice president of retail and community relations, said that the impact of the 1998 All-Star Game at Coors Field is still being felt. With the 2021 All-Star Legacy Initiative -- which has grown dramatically since its inception -- resulting in MLB and the Rockies contributing approximately $5 million to local projects and national charitable organizations that have a positive effect in the Denver area, Kellogg is happy to see lasting change ahead of the July 13 Midsummer Classic at Coors.
“There was only one legacy project in 1998, because things were different then,” Kellogg said. “It was the Coca-Cola All-Star Park at the Gold Crown Foundation in Lakewood, Colo. Today, that park still hosts camps, clinics, games -- a lot of baseball gets played over there. They actually just put in artificial turf to help with their maintenance program, so that’s a mini-Coors Field that continues to operate and get better.
“This All-Star Game can make a greater impact for years to come.”
The Rockies and MLB have picked six organizations that are geared toward helping with various family issues, mental health, and baseball facilities and participation efforts.
Here is a look at the programs that will benefit:
Children’s Hospital Colorado
The non-profit hospital treats all children, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. Additionally, the hospital’s Resource Connect program is a hub that connects patients and their families with various benefits and services that take care of needs beyond the medical issue at hand.
“This is a unique program that was started in 2019 -- Children’s [felt] like there was a gap,” Kellogg said. “Because they were food-insecure, they weren’t able to pay their bills, their housing costs were too expensive, paying their heat and water was taking priority over wellness checks. When their kids did get sick, they would take them to the emergency room, which isn’t the most effective way to care for your child.
“They decided to start this program where you come in for a wellness check, and they sit down with you, Mom and Dad, and say, ‘What is life like for you, and what are your needs and what services can we help connect you with that can help take care of those needs?’”
Denver Public Schools (DPS) RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) grant for boys and girls
“I do feel like it’s growing,” Kellogg said. “Our goal with this Legacy grant on RBI is grow the program by 25 percent each of the next four years. So we’re going to basically double the program in four years.
“We have a lot of schools that have reached out to us to see if they can participate in it. This is a great opportunity for Major League Baseball and the Rockies. With baseball in town and excitement around the Rockies, kids come to the game. By getting kids interested in baseball and wanting to play, we think RBI is a great way to impact them.”
John F. Kennedy High School field renovations
The Rockies became aware of a problem with baseball and softball at JFK, one of the largest Title I low-income schools in DPS.
“We’re renovating three different fields with this Legacy project -- and Kennedy High School, in particular, the kids are actually a part of the RBI program,” Kellogg said. “Last year, both their baseball and softball fields were deemed unplayable.
“DPS said, ‘Let’s see if we can refurbish these fields by July 10 or 11.' And, my goodness, we’re going to get that done. We’re going to build a whole new softball field beside the baseball field, with scoreboards and signage -- and that will be unveiled with a game sometime around All-Star Week.”
Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver: J. Churchill Owen Branch
The J. Churchill Owen Boys & Girls Club has been open since 1967, and the Rockies have been a supporting sponsor. The Legacy grant will be used in several areas.
• The Teen Center will receive new flooring, paint, storage units and furniture. Additionally, all devices will be converted to laptops, so the center will be more conducive to tech programming. New storage units will keep the space cleaner and more organized. The social area and gym will be updated with new furniture and games.
• The baseball field will also undergo a beautification and improvement project.
The Rockies have been involved with the center, opened by onetime Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese and his wife, Dr. Brook Griese, a clinical psychologist. It is named for Griese's mother, who died of breast cancer when he was 12 years old. The center is designed to help children and young adults who have lost a loved one.
“They provide comprehensive grief care services for children and families to help them express and cope with grief,” Kellogg said. “It’s such a unique service, and we’re going to magnify it and let everyone know about the work that’s being done.”
Military community grants for TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) and Challenge America
“We love to support the military, and so does Major League Baseball,” Kellogg said. “TAPS provides resources for families that have lost a loved one in service, in battle. We’re going to provide a clinic for 20 of those kids from TAPS.
“Challenge America is working toward a job placement program and an art therapy program for veterans that helps them reacclimate into the community, and to find work when they’re exiting the military.”