Nonprofit reaches its first $12 million so it can begin construction in April.
The Detroit Police Athletic League announced Tuesday that it has reached its initial “Kids on the Corner” fundraising goal of $12 million, allowing the nonprofit to break ground in April on a multisport complex for Detroit children and new PAL headquarters at the site of the old Tiger Stadium.
PAL has a total fundraising goal of $15.43 million and a “stretch goal” of $20 million. The nonprofit intends to continue the campaign through 2017, PAL CEO Tim Richey said in a Crain’s interview following a Tuesday news conference at DTE Energy Co. headquarters.
“We’ve got a lot of runway,” Richey said. “There are still a lot of folks who want to contribute.”
The new facility in the city’s Corktown neighborhood will include a 2,500-seat stadium for baseball, softball, football, lacrosse, soccer and other sports with dugouts, locker rooms, scoreboards and lights, Richey said. The full footprint of the original Tiger Stadium diamond will be used.
The 10,000-square-foot headquarters will include PAL offices on the first floor; the second floor will be a banquet facility for up to 300 people for volunteer training and community use.
Indoor sports programs, like basketball and volleyball, will take place throughout the city, Richey said. “We’re running the campaign to give kids the opportunity to play at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, but just as importantly this is for kids playing at every corner of Detroit,” he said.
Development plans were solidified in December 2014, when the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. approved a memorandum of agreement from PAL and the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy. The proposal sketches what PAL was getting itself into: The capital cost for redevelopment is $11 million and the long-term sustainability project was $4.43 million. A year of fundraising has resulted in $12 million, with more than a year to achieve the additional $8 million that is Richey’s stretch goal.
Richey thanked key players for nearly 10 minutes, which provided fodder for jokes for later speakers. The plan to break ground, however, follows years of deliberation and support from a slew of government programs, universities, companies and nonprofits. Representatives of the nonprofit, government and business communities that have supported PAL spoke about the importance of youth sports, Detroit and the work of the decades-old organization.
“I’m confident the project will honor the history of the site and provide a unique opportunity for PAL to grow service to all Detroit kids while becoming a destination for sports enthusiasts throughout the region,” Richey said at the conference.
The “Kids on the Corner” fundraising initiative kicked off a year ago after years of planning. In 2011, Detroit PAL’s board of directors began the search for a new headquarters and sports complex to better serve the 12,000 Detroit youth who participate in its team sport programming.
That led former PAL CEO Dan Varner to seek federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to redevelop the site of the old Tiger Stadium, held in trust by the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy. Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., was instrumental in connecting PAL to the $3 million earmark that was the foundation for “Kids on the Corner.”
At the news conference, Levin emphasized the importance of Tiger Stadium’s history and supporting youth sport.
“There was something here that needed to be preserved so that our kids could continue to have dreams that kids must have,” the Detroit native said. “It’s all about the kids, and their dreams and anything we can do in our city to help our kids so that they have the opportunities that so many of us had.”
Photo by Courtesy of PAL
This is what planners aim for the new Detroit Police Athletic League multisport youth complex and PAL headquarters to look like at the old Tiger Stadium grounds. The nonprofit plans to break ground in April after raising an initial $12 million.