PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Boxers Bernard Hopkins and Oscar de la Hoya were on hand at the Athletic Rec Center in Brewerytown Monday for a big announcement. The city’s rec centers and libraries will soon get a big boost.
A half a billion dollars over eight years. That’s what the city will invest into the parks and recreation department to transform aging rec centers, pools and libraries into state-of-the-art facilities.READ MORE: Police: Body Found In Ocean Off New Jersey Identified As Man Missing For 4 Days
“I look at these centers and I see the people here struggling to duck tape heaters and electrical systems,” says Mayor Jim Kenney.
He announced investment into the Rebuild program, alongside the city’s Parks and Rec Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovett. He says it will make Philadelphia’s parks and rec facilities comparable to other areas.
“Our kids deserve state-of-the-art facilities like they have in the suburbs and we’re going to give it to them,” says Kenney.
The city will start with the most neglected centers, like the Athletic Recreation Center on North 24th Street, where many Olympic and pro athletes got their start. The center was built in 1920 and today, posters of boxing legends cover cracked plaster walls and pock-marked ceilings, evidence of its age.READ MORE: CBS3 Pet Project: As Halloween Approaches, Remember Not All Dogs Will Enjoy Wearing Costumes
“You had to come here for the final stamp that you were the real deal,” says Bernard Hopkins. He reigned as middle weight boxing champ for more than a decade. Now, at 51 years old, he announced his final bout will take place December 17 and will be broadcast on HBO. But he wanted to close the circle on his career at the place where it all began.
“For me to have my last one here, and to have my friends Oscar and so many others from all over be here, it’s the way it’s supposed to be,” he says.
Kenney says Rebuild will begin sometime next year when request for proposals and other efforts become more visible.
“This will be a shot the arm, not just for parks, but for people to know that we haven’t forgotten about their neighborhood,” he says.MORE NEWS: AIDS Walk Philly, Region's Largest HIV Awareness Event, Underway At Art Museum
He says the goal is to give hope.