This morning a press conference was held to announce the renovation of the Belmont Heights Little League baseball fields. Those in attendance included representatives from the City of Tampa, Lowe’s Home Centers Inc., Little League International, and the Devil Rays. WMNF’s Kim Farley reports……

The day was, as Mayor Iorio termed it, “perfect baseball weather.� With no clouds and a slight breeze the ceremony was underway at 11 am this morning.

The representatives from Lowe’s, the City of Tampa, the Devil Rays, and Little League International all spoke of how important the renovation is to the community. Each is pledging money and expertise towards the project.

When Mayor Pam Iorio was elected, one of her goals was the revitalization of East Tampa. She hopes that by improving the neighborhood, businesses will move in and crime and drug abuse will decrease. She was therefore quite pleased and described her first visit to the field. (SB 3, OQ …takes a partnership)

Ed Johnson, Manager of the East Tampa Development and Community Lending Programs for the City of Tampa, spoke in part about exactly how this renovation will help the community. (SB 1, OQ… competitive advantage.)

The Belmont Heights Little League enjoyed its greatest success during the 70s and early 80s. Six teams in three different divisions went to the Little League World Series and in 1982 one of the divisions won the world championship. This team included future major-leaguers Gary Sheffield and Derek Bell. Other major leaguers to come out of the league include Dwight Gooden and Carl Everett.

But lately, the fields have fallen into disrepair, fewer children are signed up to play, and the League even lost its charter for a short time in the mid 90s. This year the partnership was formed and help is on its way.

Between Lowe’s, Little League International, and the Devil Rays, 50 thousand dollars will be donated along with baseball equipment and groundskeepers. Dick Crippen, Executive Director of the Rays of Hope Foundation, through which the Devil Rays is donating money, explains the role the City of Tampa will have. (SB 4, OQ …a minimum)

Belmont Heights Little League President, Ann Perkins, was lauded by those who spoke for her efforts to get the project underway. Before she spoke, she was credited for getting the ball rolling on the project as well as being the one who will be left behind to make sure that with all the funding, the revitalization is successful. With all the talk of partnership on the project and how the community will be helped, she drove to the heart of the matter. The children and her objectives on furthering them in life through sports. (SB 2, OQ …citizens of our community.)

For WMNF News, I’m Kimberley Farley

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