Earlier this month, the Detroit Police Athletic League’s executive board approved a plan calling for the organization to build a new headquarters and interactive center in conjunction with a $33 million project to restore the historic Tiger Stadium site. Tim Richey, CEO of the Detroit-based nonprofit, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about the project, which is expected to break ground in March 2016.
1. DDN: What is the vision for the new site once it’s up and running?
TR: We now have about 1,500 volunteer coaches who help us serve 12,000 kids each year. (With the new facility) we’re going to have a state-of-the-art facility where we can host training for those coaches. We’ll also have space for volunteer certification, space for staff, and a space to invite students down for leadership training. And then we’re going to build out a 2,500-seat stadium, with locker rooms and dugouts — it will be the kind of place that any young person would be proud to play at.
2. DDN: What kind of impact will this have on the PAL organization?
TR: We expect that this project is going to generate a lot of interest in Detroit PAL and raise the profile of our organization. We hope to raise significant dollars not only for this building but also for our programming in general, so we can ultimately serve more kids in more Detroit neighborhoods. Our (executive) board felt very strongly that if this was just a project to build a building, they weren’t interested, but if we were going to use this project to serve more kids and to serve them better, then they were all on board.
3. DDN: How many youths do you hope to reach with the new mission?
TR: There are tens of thousands of kids who aren’t participating in quality after-school programs that we’d like to reach. By 2018, we’d like to be up to 15,000 (participants).
4. DDN: How will the new facility be funded?
TR: Right now, we’re putting the leadership committee together and are having private conversations with a couple of major corporations right now about a lead gift to get us started. We were very lucky that the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy received a (Housing and Urban Development grant) earmarked from Sen. Carl Levin, which is at $3 million now. The new building, the field, and the locker rooms will cost $11 million, so we still need to raise $8 million.
5. DDN: What else is Detroit PAL working on?
TR: We recently partnered with Mayor (Mike) Duggan on the Goal Detroit Soccer League. We served nearly 700 students in about 20 elementary schools, so we’re looking forward to working with the mayor’s office to grow that program. What’s really cool is our partnership with the Detroit Police Department. We’re working with the police chief’s office in engaging more officers as volunteers. For us, (Detroit PAL) is about giving these kids quality after-school activities. By connecting them with police, it just provides a whole different way for young people to see and (interact) with officers. And just as importantly, it’s a great way for the officers to engage the young people, too.