On Saturday, September 22, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) and Executive Director Nichol Whiteman, together with Dodger All-Stars Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw, joined Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten, Dodger Manager Dave Roberts, Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and other officials along with scores of young baseball and softball players to unveil the 50th Dodgers Dreamfield at Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South Los Angeles.
The completion of this Dreamfield marked the final step in LADF’s commitment to create 50 fields in 15 years. Since 2003, over $10 million has been invested in these fields, which have impacted the lives of over 300,000 youth in and around Los Angeles. The foundation revealed that it is extending its initial commitment of 50 fields with an additional $10 million to build 75 fields by the 75th anniversary of the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles.
The construction of this $300,000 project is partially funded by generous donations from the City of Los Angeles, Yasiel Puig’s Wildhorse Foundation, the Tyler Development Corporation, Clayton & Ellen Kershaw, the LA84 Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, and the Bruce P. Rubenstein Family.
Additional special guests and speakers at the unveiling ceremony included State Senator Holly J. Mitchell, LA City Council President Herb Wesson, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Manny Mota, and Steve Yeager (Dodger Alumni), Alanna Rizzo (Los Angeles Dodgers Broadcaster), Aleta Williams (Daughter of Algin Sutton), Vicki Israel (Assistant General Manager, LA Department of Recreation and Parks), Tyler Udall (Tyler Development Corporation), Renata Simril (President and CEO, LA84 Foundation), Marsha Bonner (Director of Community Grantmaking, Annenberg Foundation), John Bendheim (Leon Lowenstein Foundation), Joe Baca, Jr. (Rialto City Councilmember), youth softball and baseball players representing the community of Algin Sutton, Dodgers RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), the Natasha Watley Foundation, Girls Play LA, Yasiel Puig’s 66ers baseball team, Manchester Elementary School, Brotherhood Crusades, Alliance Judy I Burton Technology Academy High School, and the Boys & Girls Club. Dodgers players and officials gathered for a ceremonial “lighting of the scoreboard,” which was followed by a public community festival that included fun-filled activations including a Farmer John Dodger Dog Truck, LADWP Water Truck, LA Teams Sports Zone, Dodger Alumni autographs, Dodger Guy Character, Dodger giveaways and tunes from DJ Severe, the Dodger DJ.
“We are proud of the meaningful impact Dodgers Dreamfields have had on local communities. As we unveil our 50th, we are thrilled to extend and renew our promise to provide access and opportunity to youth throughout Los Angeles who need it most,” Mark Walter, Dodger Owner and Chairman, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.
“It makes perfect sense that the 50th Dreamfield would open right here at a recreation center named after the late Algin Sutton, who dedicated his career to connecting young people with opportunities to play,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “In Los Angeles, we are committed to making sure that every child has access to sports and recreation no matter what her zip code, and I’m so proud to call the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation our partner in increasing opportunities to play!”
“Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation for completing their 50th Dodgers Dreamfield”, said Mike Shull, General Manager, Department of Recreation and Parks. “We are proud of our partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers and their commitment to invest in our City’s park system, which has created lasting disparities in access to quality open space and recreation programs for youth and families of our communities.”
During the unveiling ceremony, the foundation debuted its Dodgers Dreamfields Impact Report, outlining the tremendous influence that these fields have had on youth in Los Angeles’ most underserved communities including Central Los Angeles, Inglewood, South Los Angeles, Harbor City, San Fernando Valley, East Los Angeles, and La Puente. These fields provide kids with a positive and vibrant environment to participate in baseball and softball opportunities in their neighborhoods. In partnership with corporations, foundations, local municipalities, and individuals, Dodgers Dreamfields contribute to both community development and youth development by providing youth the opportunity and space to learn and play the game of baseball and softball, while building character and instilling important life lessons. Program resources and elements include backstop upgrades, dugout upgrades, irrigation improvements, surface re-grading, new home plate, pitching rubbers, and bases, outfield fencing and windscreens, turf renovation, sod installation, and new signage and scoreboard.
“We are so proud to have reached our goal of building 50 Dreamfields, but know that there is still much more work to be done,” said Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Executive Director Nichol Whiteman. “These fields have given our local youth a sense of pride and ownership every time they step onto the mound or slide across home base. The value of these Dreamfields cannot be overstated, and we are excited to have the chance to share everything that baseball and softball have to offer with even more communities over the next several years!”
The LA84 Foundation is the longest-standing sponsor of Dodger Dreamfields, having provided funding for 43 of the 50 fields, beginning in 2003. “Today is an historic day for the kids of the Los Angeles area – 50 Dreamfields is a remarkable achievement,” said Renata Simril, President and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. Simril added: “In a world where there is too much ‘photo-op philanthropy,’ the Dodgers Foundation produces real and sustaining positive community impact.”
“I am proud to partner with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation for their 50th Dreamfield,” said Yasiel Puig. “I hope this field will ignite the children’s love of baseball and I hope the sport will bring as much joy to their lives as it has to mine. Giving back to the Los Angeles community with a gift that will impact future generations is truly an honor.”
“Ellen and I are so honored to be a part of LADF’s 50th Dodgers Dreamfield,” added Clayton Kershaw. “We have been partnering with them since they built the Universally Accessible Field in Baldwin Hills and are proud to partner with the foundation as they continue to impact thousands of kids throughout LA.”
A high need for youth baseball/softball recreation space, racial and ethnic diversity, high “park need” metric, number of youth living in the surrounding community, and current baseball/softball interest are all factors that will help the foundation determine the locations of these next fields. By maintaining current partners and establishing new ones, LADF will continue to positively impact communities throughout the Los Angeles area.