NEWORLEANS - The city of New Orleans partnered with Major League Baseball to revive a local playground.
On Friday, the two-sides will host the grand opening of the New Orleans Urban Youth Academy at the new Wesley Barrow Stadium in Pontchartrain Park.
For years after Hurricane Katrina, the stadium remained unused and deteriorating.
The state-of-the-art 650-seat stadium cost $6.5 million and was mainly paid for by FEMA and bond funding.
The lighting, three fields and clay pitching mounds contribute to the novelty of the stadium.
'There are many, many bells and whistles. It's almost like a real major league baseball stadium,' said Roy Glapion, the chairman of New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC.)
The Urban Youth Academy gives youth a chance to play baseball at a higher level and be taught by ex-major leaguers.
'Be involved in the game beyond high school, beyond college...anything can happen. As we see RonWashington, a former player from New Orleans, is now a manager of the Texas Rangers,' said Darrell Miller, the MLB vice president of Youth and Facility. 'Our goal is to get kids to play the greatest game that ever was created.'
Staff will be at the facility to mentor, teach the game, counsel and 'be a friend' to young people, Miller said.
The field is the fourth one to be built in the nation. Miller said New Orleans was chosen after seeing Katrina's devastation, and this particular stadium was chosen after learning of its history.
'We're going to be here for the next 25 years,' Miller said.
The grand opening is at 10 a.m.