Plans for Nats baseball academy move forward (updated)

The D.C. City Council has approved a lease with the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation to build the long-awaited baseball academy at Fort Dupont Park, Mike Henderson of Nats Daily News reports.

The measure, which was approved Tuesday, will allow construction and operation of the youth baseball academy on land transferred to the city in June, as well as an opportunity for the District to provide a $10.2 million grant for financing the project. Chairman Vincent C. Gray pushed for this facility to be included in the agreement that brought baseball to Washington.

"I am extremely proud that one of my final acts will expedite the creation of much-needed sports, recreation and educational programs for underserved youth east of the Anacostia River," Gray said in a press release. "As a baseball player, I am delighted that we are rejuvenating baseball for District youth."

The Youth Baseball Academy is a cornerstone program of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, which is also constructing a pediatric diabetes care complex at Children's National Medical Center.

"We are delighted that the City Council gave final approval to the lease for the land at Fort Dupont as well as the agreement for the city's $10.2m grant. Without this generous contribution, we would not be so close to breaking ground," said Gregory McCarthy, vice president of government affairs for the Nationals.

"Chairman Vincent Gray's ongoing support for this project and his leadership have been instrumental," he added.

Most of the baseball facilities including an academic building will be ready for the 2012 baseball season, but at least one field for Wards 7 and 8 should be completed by next summer.

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