Little leaguers from across the borough will be able to live out their dreams by playing in the footsteps of their favorite Yankees idols in a new park planned for the location of the old Yankee Stadium.
Tuesday, June 29, Yankees and Bronx officials broke ground on Heritage Field, a multi-purpose athletic field that will be built over the next 12 months in the footprint of the old Yankee Stadium, and in the shadow of the new one.
“I’m typically the first to point out when something is going wrong in the borough, but here today I have to say that something is going right in the Bronx,” borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said. “Our young men and women will be able to play in the same footprints as legendary players Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle.”
The 11-acre park will include a baseball, little league and softball field, bleachers, a playground and a comfort station, as well as space for track and field events like shot put, javelin and discus. The site will also house commemorative paving stones and viewfinders showing photographs of historic moments at the stadium, such as World Series games and prize fights and the iconic “bat” smokestack.
“It’s a pleasure to stand in the incipient ball field that is standing on hallowed ground,” said Adrian Benepe, city parks and recreations commissioner. “Construction never goes as fast as you want, but bit by bit we’re keeping our promises to not simply replace it, but to make it far better than it was before. If we build it, and hopefully we build it well, they will come.”
Tony Osoria, who coaches Morris Baseball Little League, said he and his players are looking forward to being able to play in the new park in 2011. He said his team currently plays in St. Mary’s Park.
“Everybody is waiting to see the new park,” he said. “It looks real good in pictures, so we’re hoping it turns out that good.”
The Heritage Field project is funded with $50.8 million from the City of New York, and is the final piece of the city’s plan to develop parkland in the South Bronx around Yankee Stadium. In total the city has put $195 into parks around Yankee Stadium, most recently completing a new skate park at River Avenue and East 157th Street, and renovations at Mill Pond Park that included fixing the Power House Building, the Joseph Yancey Track and Field areas at Macombs Dam Park.