Lisa Bernard-Kuhn reports:
Procter & Gamble Co. is announcing a $2 million investment today in the Reds Community Fund that will deliver the first year-round baseball and softball training facility for youth in the Midwest.
Officials will break ground in 2013 on the Reds Urban Youth Academy, modeled after the Reds’ spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., said Phil Castellini, chief operating officer for the Reds.
The project will renovate four baseball fields at Roselawn Park on Seymour Avenue that currently serve as home fields for Walnut Hills and Purcell Marian high schools. Plans also call for a 33,000-square-foot indoor sports facility with batting cages and pitching tunnels. Roselawn Park will remain a public park, with the City of Cincinnati pledging to build a new shelter, playground and basketball court for the community.
The Reds Community Fund will operate the facility and provide free year-round baseball and softball instruction for boys and girls ages 6 to 18 from across the region.
“This really speaks to the fact that when you make an investment in the right place for the right reason, it can have such a far-reaching impact,” said Castellini. “The more that we, the corporate community, invest in our own city, the better we’re all going to be.”
More than $1.5 million of P&G’s commitment will go toward fund raising for the academy, which will be built in two phases.
The remainder will be used for “activating” 10 P&G brands at the fan zone in Great American Ball Park: Tide, Charmin, Bounty, Pampers, Cascade, Febreze, Downy, Swiffer, Dawn and Bounce.
Aside from marketing displays and signs at the ballpark, P&G will use the fan zone for product samplings, promotions and focus-group questionnaires, Castellini said.
Improvements to the fan zone and Crosley Terrace, found just outside the main entrance, will help “bring a bigger wow” to the branding effort, Castellini added. The new features will be in place sometime in 2013.
“It will enable those brands to take advantage of our facility and hopefully interact with the more than 2.5 million fans that come through each year,” Castellini said.
The investment marks P&G’s largest ever with the Reds. It’s possible thanks in large part to The Kroger Co.’s commitment to partner with P&G on an in-store retail plan, also set for 2013, said Jodi Allen, vice president of North America marketing and brand operations at P&G.
Themed “You Save, They Play,” the retail marketing campaign will display P&G’s 10 brands alongside the story of the Reds Urban Youth Academy at Kroger stores across the region.
“By having a three-way partnership with Kroger and the Reds, we’re able to do this in a way that is financially responsible, makes sense for Kroger’s shoppers and helps the Urban Youth Academy,” Allen said.
Once complete, all of the Reds Community Fund programs are expected to be held at the Urban Youth Academy, benefiting 20,000 kids a year.
“The Urban Youth Academy is about getting youth involved in so much more than sports,” said Allen. “It’s about learning what it’s like to be a part of a team and learning how to deal with winning and losing. It’s about giving them self confidence and something that they can put energy into to keep them away from other things that might not be so positive.”