The Houston Astros and the City of Houston are collaborating  with Houston-based corporations on a plan to build or refurbish youth baseball and softball fields in disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the city. The companies that have currently committed to this program are National Oilwell Varco, Halliburton, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Calpine Corporation, Champion Energy Services, Schlumberger and Nabors Industries. The Astros plan to have 12 corporate partners in the Community Leaders Program, which will ultimately contribute $18.0 million to the City of Houston over the next five years.

Astros Owner & Chairman Jim Crane personally developed the plan with Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who has offered the club and its corporate partners many viable options of parks that need refurbishment. Over the last few months, Crane, Mayor Parker and Houston Parks and Recreation Director Joe Turner have visited these neighborhoods and parks to select the best options, which will have the most lasting impact on youth baseball and softball.

The Community Leaders program has offered corporations the opportunity to partner with the Astros and the Astros In Action Foundation to become part of a team that will improve these neighborhoods through the game of baseball.

“Baseball was very important to my own development,” said Crane. “Playing baseball made me a lot more confident and comfortable in my ability to achieve things. I’d like to be able to help more kids get the opportunity I had through baseball.”

“The Astros’ Community Leaders program is providing a tremendous service to Houston’s young people at no cost to our taxpayers,” said Mayor Parker. “As a former softball player, I know this program will be successful in encouraging young people to play, and I applaud the Astros and the corporations participating in this program for their community spirit and generosity. We are proud to partner with the Houston Astros to help some of our parks in disadvantaged neighborhoods.”

Community Leaders is a five-year program, which matches the corporation’s employees along with wounded veterans as volunteers in the build, refurbishment, and guest services that go along with the plan. Their employees will also volunteer as coaches or mentors at the park, some of which will also be providing wellness and education programs for their patrons.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig also commented on the significance of the program.  “I applaud Jim Crane and the Astros for partnering with so many fine local organizations and impacting the

future of youth baseball in Houston,” Selig said. “The Astros’ efforts will help us reach our next generation of leaders, players, coaches and fans. Major League Baseball is a social institution, and I am delighted that the Astros’ new Community Leaders Program will help us meet our important social responsibilities in the communities of Houston.”

The Astros will break ground on the project this summer and will complete construction of the fields at the start of the 2013 baseball season.

NEW LEFT FIELD STRUCTURE

To recognize the partners participating in the Community Leaders program, the Astros have begun building a large structure on the left field light tower at Minute Maid Park that is scheduled to be completed by July 20. The pennants currently located on the left field wall will be moved to another location inside the ballpark.

As Houston’s Major League Baseball team, the Houston Astros are privileged to be woven into the social fabric of the community. Through numerous endeavors focusing on youth baseball, highlighted by the Astros and Minute Maid’s Grand Slam for Youth Baseball program and the Houston Astros Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Acres Homes, the Astros have made a significant impact on the surrounding community.

Through the Houston Astros Community Leaders program, the ball club’s goal is to have an even greater  impact on the community as the program matures.