MANKATO, Minn.—New York Yankee centerfielder, Curtis Granderson, has signed on to fund the building of a new multi-million dollar baseball stadium at the University of Illinois at Chicago, construction beginning Fall of 2013.
The UIC alumnus, played for the Mankato Mashers in 2001, now known as the Mankato MoonDogs, after his sophomore year, where he batted .328 in 44 games, with eight doubles, two triples, one home run, 17 RBI, 28 runs scored and 15 stolen bases.
UIC retired Granderson’s No. 28 jersey Wednesday at the inaugural Diamond Dinner hosted by UIC baseball, where Granderson also announced the intentions of his gift.
"We are grateful to Curtis for his generosity, which will impact UIC baseball and our student-athletes for generations," UIC athletic director Jim Schmidt said.
"Being a baseball player is such a small piece of who Curtis really is as a person," said UIC Head Baseball Coach Mike Dee. "I think this gift demonstrates where his heart is and his sense of social responsibility. I’m really proud of him as a person and I’m proud he came from this program."
Curtis Granderson Stadium will be home to much more than just Flames baseball. It is intended to serve area youth and the Chicago Community, along with partnerships with Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, Urban Youth Academy and the Chicago Public Schools.
"There are a lot of people in the community that are in the same situation I was in 15 to 20 years ago," Granderson said in a statement. "Now, I am in a position where I have the ability to help kids pursue whatever dreams they have, whether they are educational, athletic or just life in general."
The construction timetable is set for two years, starting this Fall. Curtis Granderson Stadium will feature 1,200 chair-back seats and two grassy berms for spectator seating. The open air brick and stone clad ballpark will allow for flexibility an easy pedestrian movement. In addition there will be one level of disability seating and another level with enhanced press amenities.
"I started playing baseball when I was six years old and friendships I had at that point I still have today," Granderson said "You learn teamwork, leadership, discipline and also how to fail and succeed — things you don’t realize at the time how beneficial they are going to be moving forward. You’re going to have to set goals and work hard to accomplish them. That’s what baseball has done for me, and hopefully that’s what baseball will do for the youth in Chicago."