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Work begins on Tottenville’s South Shore Little League Joseph A. Verdino Jr. Field of Dreams Baseball Grandstand

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, Council Member Joe Borelli, and Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora today announced that construction has begun on the new Joseph A. Verdino, Jr. Grandstand at the South Shore Little League in Staten Island. 

The grandstand, which will open next spring, is named for Joseph A. Verdino, Jr., a South Shore Little League player who passed away in 2007. He was 10 years old.

His parents, Robin and Joseph Verdino, created the Joseph Anthony Verdino, Jr. Field of Dreams Foundation to build a state-of-the-art baseball grandstand at South Shore Little League and improve little league and community baseball fields throughout the borough. The project will allow South Shore Little League to host Little League sanctioned tournaments in an inspiring and functional new grandstand.

“The effort to jump-start construction of this wonderful new baseball stadium for the children of the South Shore and Tottenville was like a Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double play: the concerned parents told me their challenges at Opening Day; I called Mayor de Blasio on their behalf; and the Mayor sealed the deal by cutting through the red tape and got construction started. That’s how government is supposed to work:  responsive and bi-partisan--the local champions like Borough President Oddo and Council member Borelli were also ardent supporters – and effective,” said Senator Schumer.

Schumer added, “The South Shore Little League is made up of bright-eyed, baseball-loving, hardworking kids in the community and they deserve a brand new baseball stadium to call home. For far too long, plans for the new Joseph A. Verdino Jr. Field of Dreams Baseball Stadium have been stuck in the dugout and that’s why Mayor de Blasio and I worked together to make this priority. After our push, construction on the new stadium is set to begin today and that’s grand-slam good news for the South Shore Little League!” 

“I am so please we were able to move this incredible project forward, and help build a field of dreams for hundreds of children. Baseball is a game that teaches kids life lessons and that makes the Joseph Anthony Verdino, Jr. Foundation and grandstand all the more poignant. This will be an amazing tribute to Joseph’s life and an important resource for generations of baseball players and fans,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.  

“When the Mayor and I were at Lee’s Tavern having pizza after reviewing snow removal efforts on Staten Island during the first large snow storm a few months ago, I brought the issues delaying this project directly to the Mayor’s attention and asked him to personally intervene. Now, for the first time in a long time, I feel optimistic that the dream of Robin and Joe Verdino to honor their son by building a state-of-the-art facility for generations of Staten Island young people will finally come to fruition. This is a story that is about so much more than just a field; it is about a mother and a father and a son taken from them way too soon. Thank you to the Mayor for hearing me out, and I thank my colleagues Senator Schumer, Councilman Borelli and former Councilman Ignizio for all they have done to get us here,” Borough President James Oddo said. 

 “This is a field where I dropped fly balls and grounded out just about every weekend as a kid; but now I simply could not accept a strike out on this project.  I am glad we were able to gather enough support from the Mayor and Senator Schumer to push it forward and ensure young players, who are far better than I ever was, have a new field to play on again,” said Council Member Joe Borelli.

“The current mix of bleachers, press box, and dugouts constructed over many years will be replaced with one continuous grandstand that provides superior facilities with a clear sense of identity for the League,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “South Shore Little League has produced some of the best and most memorable teams in youth baseball, and soon it will have an advanced grandstand that represents those accomplishments.”

“It's exciting for the children to be able to play in a little league baseball stadium built for them and future players of Staten Island,” said South Shore Little League President John Ioria.  “Many thanks to Senator Schumer, Mayor de Blasio, Borough President Oddo and Councilman Borelli for all their efforts.”

Progress toward construction began shortly after Sen. Schumer’s annual visit to the South Shore Little League’s Opening Day this year, when he heard from parents trying to navigate construction red tape. The Mayor – who also began hearing about construction delays from local elected officials – and Schumer discussed expediting approvals and construction of the stadium. The Mayor made the stadium a City Hall priority and agencies involved fast tracked needed approvals. The project is being managed by the Department of Design and Construction.

The $5.5 million project includes the construction of the grandstand to create a major league experience at the Larry DeYoung Field, at the corner of Bedell Avenue and Hylan Boulevard, and at the southwest corner of the Little League complex. Overall, the complex has seven fields. South Shore Little League has served the Tottenville community since 1954.

The new grandstand will have elevated seating for up to 275 fans, additional covered accessible seating and spectator standing areas along first and third base lines, a press box elevated above home plate, a conference room below the press box, trophy displays, seating areas, and storage under the grandstand. It will also have recessed dugouts for the home and away players, and more energy-efficient lights.

Funding for the project came from the foundation and contributions from former Staten Island Borough Presidents James P. Molinaro and James Oddo, as well as former Councilmember Vincent Ignizio.