MLB Youth Academy Consistently Asked Questions
"I have spent a great deal of time over the past week studying, researching, and speaking to residents on both sides of the issues concerning the MLB Urban Youth Academy. One thing that I quickly realized was that people were making decisions and taking stances based on a lot of misinformation. I personally believe that the MLB Youth Academy is a great concept and I believe that it will flourish at George Ward Park. However, I was able to arrive at my conclusion by considering the actual facts, reading the proposed contract, hearing from attorneys, and speaking directly to the MLB representative. This turned out to be a privilege that many residents were deprived of. I can not do anything about the past, but I can share some of what I have learned in hopes that residents will be able to make the determination on how they feel about the project based on facts. While all information could potentially change, this is the most up to date information concerning the project."
-Councilor Clinton Woods
Is MLB taking over the entire park? / Will residents still have access?
The current plan is for the MLB Academy to stay within the current footprint of the existing ballfields. This means that there are no plans to impact the disc golf course, tennis courts, dog park or roadways. After construction plans reflect, that there will be 3 fields available for softball and 3-5 fields available for kickball. The proposed agreement reflects that fields will be available for residents M-F 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. & Sundays 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.(potentially unavailable over spring break).
**In my opinion the largest impact will be on softball tournaments that require more than 3 fields simultaneously. The Park Board has been in conversation with some of the various tournament organizers, to meet their needs going forward. I am hopeful that all tournaments remain in Birmingham.
When will construction start and How long will construction last?
If passed by the City Council, construction would tentatively begin after Spring League has concluded in May of 2019. This will allow the adult leagues that desire to use George Ward Park for their 2019 Tournaments to proceed as planned. The projected is estimated to take 12 months to complete.
What is the purpose of the of the MLB baseball academy?
The mission of the MLB Youth Academy is to build a sustainable youth baseball and softball model that fulfills the needs and desires of young people who want to play our game. Our domestic partnerships with key stakeholders like USA Baseball, USA Softball and Boys & Girls Clubs of America enhance our ability to reach young people within local communities and around the United States. As such, we will continue to look toward cultivating interest by developing innovative programming that speaks to the growing and diverse demands of today’s youth.
The MLB Youth Academy plans to provide programming for more than 1,500 youth in the City of Birmingham and surrounding communities.
Who can participate in the academy?
MLB academies are available to youth, typically 6 to 18. MLB expects to serve over 1500 youth.
What other services will the MLB academy offer?
Daily Baseball and Softball Instruction
Position specific training, team and one-on-one batting practice, team practice settings (typically available five days per week)
All ages welcome, more general and group instruction (Saturday mornings)
RBI Baseball and Softball Program
Introductory baseball and softball league
MLB Scout Leagues
Professional baseball teams will host Elite Scout teams each year
MLB Pre-Draft Workouts
For youth in the Birmingham area, conducted by Major League Baseball teams and local scouts
Breakthrough Series Showcases
MLB/USAB Breakthrough Series and other opportunities
MLB Umpire Camps
One day camps to train local umpires
MLB Turf Management Clinics
Conduct routine turf management clinics
Coaches Training Clinics
For RBI and local High School baseball programs
After School Tutoring
Available to all ages, grouped by age and one-on-one appointments (typically available four days a week)
STEM Education Program
6-week youth STEM educational program related to baseball statistics and sabermetrics
SAT and ACT Academic Training
Vocational Educational Programs
Field maintenance, sports information, umpire training, broadcasting and business development
Summer League Team
Collegiate players compete in the summer from June 1st to July 31st.
HS Summer League
Structured High School summer league that provides high school baseball and softball players with organized league play throughout the summer months (June- July 10- 20 team RBI league)
Elementary & Middle School Caravans
Staff from Major League Baseball Youth Foundation will visit schools in the Birmingham area to provide introductory baseball training, provide equipment, and encourage kids to play baseball or softball at the MLB Youth Academy
High School/Collegiate games & tournaments
Hosted at the MLB Youth Academy
Are there any additional cost to the city?
According to the proposed agreement, MLB will fund up to $50,000 per year of maintenance. The Park Board will continue to perform its regular park maintenance responsibilities.