Baltimore City Recreation and Parks officially announced today in a statement the start of construction for the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center at Cherry Hill and its adjacent multi-purpose, state-of-the-art playing field at Reedbird Park. The South Baltimore facilities are part of a long-term plan to transform 11 miles of shoreline along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco into a network of world-class parks, trails, and public recreation opportunities.
The 35,000 sq. ft. fitness and wellness center will include three pools; a community room, fitness studios; a gymnasium with a basketball court; a maker space; an indoor walking track, and more. The $23.1 million center will serve as one of the city’s premier regional hubs for indoor and outdoor recreation, with ties to existing trail networks, including the Gwynns Falls Trail and the Middle Branch Trail. The fitness center is scheduled to open in 2022. Plans for the super rec center site also include three additional grass fields, a playground, walking trails, a fishing pier, a dog park, basketball courts, new lighting, and a field house.
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and its partners are responsible for constructing an 83,000-square-foot synthetic surface field next to the fitness center, to be called “BGE Field presented by KELLY.” This is the 100th park of its kind constructed by the foundation and its partners nationwide. The $2.25 million multi-purpose field will provide a space for team sports, including baseball, soccer, lacrosse, football, and flag football.
Baltimore Rec & Parks will operate after-school sports programs, and the Ripken Foundation will run its Badges for Baseball program. In addition to the corporate and individual sponsors, funding for the field is provided by the City of Baltimore and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP).
Funding for the Fitness and Wellness Center includes city and state bonds, Community Development Block Grant funds, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Program Open Space, a surtax on Horseshoe Casino’s table games for city recreation programs, and Casino Local Impact Fund Grants overseen by SBGP and by the City through the Casino Local Development Council.
A celebratory groundbreaking ceremony will take place at Reedbird Park on Monday, September 21, at 1 p.m.