LAS TERRENAS, Dominican Republic -- Kids from Yordano Ventura's hometown will not have to play baseball in a dilapidated stadium for much longer.
The Royals announced Monday that money from the ACE 30 Fund, which was established in Ventura's memory shortly after his Jan. 22, 2017 death in his native Dominican Republic, would be used to renovate Estadio Municipal in Las Terrenas. Ventura learned to pitch in the stadium, and his casket was laid atop the mound there during his funeral procession last year.
The stadium has for so long operated in a state of disrepair that the local baseball association president said in a 2014 report by Dominincan newspaper Hoy that the country's ministry of sports would take on some remodeling. If any repairs were done then, it was not apparent when The Star visited Las Terrenas last week. The concrete outfield walls had cracks, puddles of water dotted the playing surface and weeds twisted through chain-link fences, some of which were torn down.
"I think that's a great idea because it's necessary here," baseball player Luis Alberto Johnson, 19, said last week. "(Ventura) said he was going to do it himself. But with his passing, it wasn't possible."
The village of Las Terrenas honored Ventura at the stadium on Monday afternoon for the one-year anniversary of his death. A framed Ventura jersey was placed on the mound and "ACE 30" was drawn on the infield dirt in front of it.
The Royals will level the outfield, fix the infield, apply new paint and install nets. They will also build a bullpen tunnel with cages for batters and pitchers and repair the dugouts.
So far, Royals Charities has raised $70,000 through the ACE 30 Fund, which was created to fund baseball-related projects in Ventura's native land.
The Royals announced the renovation in Las Terrenas on Jan. 13, when a group of minor-leaguers and Royals Charities traveled to the village for a baseball clinic. Upon completion, the Royals plan to rename the stadium in Ventura's honor.
"I don't want to exaggerate, but I don't think people heard about Las Terrenas a lot before Yordano," said Victor Baez, longtime field coordinator at the Royals' Dominican Academy in Guerra. "That town became better known because of him.
"We want Yordano's legacy to live on in Las Terrenas and the stadium."
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