"I've seen the positive impact baseball has on kids," said Astros President Reid Ryan. "The Community Leaders program is a great gift to the city of Houston, and the Astros are grateful to The Friedkin Group for ensuring that all kids can enjoy and learn the game on safe and welcoming ballfields."
The Astros Community Leaders program is investing $18 million in city-owned public youth baseball and softball fields in disadvantaged areas of Houston over the course of five years. Jumpstarted by Jim Crane, the Community Leaders program is run by The Astros Foundation, the official team charity, and is a collaboration with Mayor Annise Parker, the city of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and up to 12 Houston-based corporate champions. The reconstruction and safety features added to the city-owned Hidalgo Park ballfields were paid for through the Astros Community Leaders program and completed at no cost to taxpayers.
"The Friedkin Group is honored and excited to partner with the Astros Foundation as a member of the Community Leaders program," said The Friedkin Group's President Marc Watts. "We have a history of supporting youth initiatives and believe strongly in the benefits of exercise, family involvement, and the education gained through sports participation. We are very proud to help bring this opportunity to Hidalgo Park and the surrounding Magnolia Park community."
Reconstruction at the first Community Leaders ballfields began in 2012, and with the addition of the two newly renovated fields at Hidalgo Park, 18 fields have been renovated through the Community Leaders program. Construction at additional fields is already underway. These revitalized public youth baseball and softball fields serve thousands of at-risk youth in Houston.
"We are honored to partner with the Astros Foundation and The Friedkin Group in helping to ensure our kids have safer fields," said Arturo Salas, Jr., President of Magnolia National Little League. "Hidalgo Park now looks like a real field of dreams. We are very grateful for this generous gift to our community."
In conjunction with the team charity's other cornerstone program, the Astros Urban Youth Academy, The Astros Foundation is also developing additional programming to serve the youth teams that play at these parks, including baseball and softball clinics with the Astros current players and alumni and UYA instructors, donated equipment and special events. The youth teams partnering with the Community Leaders program will receive tickets to Astros games at Minute Maid Park, and the Houston-based corporations in the Community Leaders program, including The Friedkin Group, will also participate in occasional community service projects with their employees and other Astros Foundation-led special events at the fields throughout the five-year program.