Police Athletic League And NYPD Celebrate Opening Of PAL Armory’s New Indoor Baseball Center

June 20, 2024

On June 15, 2024, the Police Athletic League (PAL) in partnership with the NYPD celebrated the opening of PAL Armory’s Indoor Baseball Center, funded by NYPD. 

As the first of its kind in PAL history, the multi-sports center at 216 Fort Washington Avenue in Washington Heights is a 4,500 square-foot, fully renovated turfed gym space furnished with state-of-the-art equipment such as baseball and golf simulators funded by The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation/LISC Game On-Community Places to Play Initiative.  PAL staff, young baseball players, community members, elected officials and special guests participated in the opening of this brand-new sports facility.

The celebration featured Eladio Rodriguez, former New York Yankee, along with special guests: Deputy Commissioner Collaborative Policing, NYPD, Chauncey Parker; Chief Maximo Tolentino NYPD; NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Equity and Inclusion Wendy Garcia; Executive Coordinator, Strategic Partnerships Emily Campos, Department of Youth and Community Development, and PAL Executive Director Carlos Velazquez.

“We are very excited to open this new state-of-the-art sports center that has been on the drawing board with our NYPD partners for over 10 years. Special thanks to Chauncey Parker, Deputy Commissioner Collaborative Policing, NYPD, who never gave up on this dream,” said Carlos Velazquez, Executive Director, Police Athletic League. “PAL is thrilled to provide new and innovative sports programming, along with our NYPD partners, to support the young people of the community and inspire them to pursue whatever they are passionate about, both on and off the field. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to all of our terrific friends and supporters  who made this dream become a reality.”

“… support the young people of the community …”

“The new PAL Armory Indoor Baseball Center adds to the already existent Saturday Night Lights program, funded through New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development, and reinforces our commitment to New York City youth. We are ecstatic to provide this new facility with so much more to follow,” he added.

Chauncey Parker, Deputy Commissioner Collaborative Policing, NYPD, welcomed the guests and shared his enthusiasm for the new program. He said that Saturday Night Lights began when a group of community leaders got together to find a constructive outlet for young people on Saturday nights to get them off the streets and headed in a positive direction.

He introduced Emily Campos who participated in Saturday Night Lights as a young person growing up in Washington Heights. She went on to receive a full scholarship to Fordham University, and she is currently the Executive Coordinator, Strategic Partnerships, Department of Youth and Community Development. 

“I want to applaud the coaches and staff who dedicate their time to our youth. I had a coach who changed my life,” Emily Campos said.  “At the Armory Center with PAL and the NYPD, I fell in love with the idea of pursuing a career in empowering young people. I know this program can change your life, because it did for me. I would like to say to all the young people, dream a better life and you can live a better life.  Dream big!”

Wendy Garcia, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Equity and Inclusion, said, “This is such an amazing opportunity to participate in a program that is the first of its kind in our community. Please take advantage of this experience and use this center to take you to the next level, whether you continue to play baseball or reach for success in anything you want to do. And when you become famous in Major League Baseball, remember the little people and Uncle Chauncey who got you here! What a great day!”

” … we see the lasting positive impact of sports and recreational investments …”

“Sports and recreational facilities are essential threads in the fabric of safe, healthy and vibrant neighborhoods,” said Beverly Smith, vice president of LISC’s National Sports and Recreation program. “Year after year, we see the lasting positive impact of sports and recreational investments, both on the young people who participate in programs and the strong ripple effects on the wellbeing of whole communities.”

LISC is one of the country’s largest community development organizations, helping forge vibrant, resilient communities across America. LISC works with residents and partners to close systemic gaps in health, wealth, and opportunity and advance racial equity so that people and places can thrive. Since its founding in 1979, LISC has invested $32 billion to create more than 506,000 affordable homes and apartments, develop 82.5 million square feet of retail, community, and educational space, and help tens of thousands of people find employment and improve their finances. For more, visit www.lisc.org.

Founded in 1914, New York City’s Police Athletic League is a nonprofit organization that provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to 15,000 children and teens annually. For more information, please visit www.palnyc.org.

Photo credit: Police Athletic League

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