By Paul Thompson
December 6, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Police Athletic League (PAL) facility at 1801 White is about to begin a significant renovation thanks to Royals Charities, with an assist from the Royals Alumni Foundation.
Royals Charities presented PAL with a $40,000 check on the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 6 which will go towards much-needed renovations for the facility’s boys and girls locker rooms. In addition, the Royals Alumni Foundation presented a $5,000 check to go towards renovations of the attached laundry room. PAL was already planning a $65,000 locker room renovation, and the PAL Board of Directors is currently in the process of securing funding from another contributor that will help make up the difference in the project’s budget.
Operations Sgt. Sam Spencer said on Dec. 6 that PAL will move swiftly to begin construction on the renovations, which they hope to complete by the spring of 2017.
“We’re reaching out for a couple more bids, and I think they’re going to start in January,” said Spencer.
The PAL Center has been undergoing renovations for the better part of the past five years, with the refurbished basketball court serving as the most recently-completed project. The center will showcase the new court this afternoon from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., when representatives from Royals Charities and the Royals Alumni Foundation will take a tour of the facility and participate in a basketball scrimmage with urban-core youth.
The locker rooms at the PAL Center have seen sporadic use in recent years, and Spencer noted that the water in the girls locker room has actually been shut off due to plumbing issues. There are actually no lockers in the current locker room, which is also poorly lit and lacks private shower spaces.
“I’m the only one that ever uses the showers here currently,” said Spencer. “I would say that the privacy is a big issue. Some of the shower heads don’t work as well; there’s a lot of build-up and corrosion in the pipes.”
According to Kansas City Royals Vice President of Community Relations Ben Aken, the relationship between the Royals and PAL grew organically.
“Actually, it started with some of the officers that work off-duty out at the stadium,” said Aken. “They invited a few of us down for a tour to see the facility, and just told us about the Police Athletic League. We started learning everything they were doing through those personal relationships. We just wanted to figure out a way for the Royals and Royals Charities to help.”
Royals Charities made the contribution as part of their fall grant cycle. In 2016, the charity set a record for donations, which are funded primarily through the 50/50 raffles at Kauffman Stadium.
“This year, overall, Royals Charities has given out more than $2 million,” said Aken. “That’s the first time we’ve made it that high.”
KCPD Captain Thad Seever said in a Tuesday morning press release that the updated locker rooms will serve as a vital resource for the eight to 18-year-old youths who utilize the facility. In addition to upgraded showers, the locker rooms will be a place for kids to get hygiene products, clean towels, and even clean clothes, if necessary.
“Many of these kids don’t have the utilities in place or supplies at home to get clean,” Seever said. “The whole purpose of this is to give them a place to come in and privately take a shower and clean up.”
For Spencer, who works at the PAL Center full-time, the locker room renovations will be a major boon for the facility.
“It’s something that we’ve been wanting to do for a while, and we just didn’t have the funds to do it,” Spencer said. “A lot of kids don’t even want to come out and ask for help, because they’re embarrassed.”
To learn more about the Police Athletic League, visit kcpal.org.