KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A grand reopening ceremony was held Thursday in East Knoxville to celebrate the completion of a $1.1 million renovation project to Claude Walker Ballpark.

The East Knoxville sports complex is located adjacent to Austin-East Magnet High School. It is utilized by the school’s sports programs as well as several community recreational sports programs like Knox Area Youth Alliance and Baby Roadrunners football.

An artist’s rendering of the renovated Claude Walker Park in East Knoxville. Photo: Emerald Youth Foundation

The $1.1-million renovation project included state-of-the-art turf on both diamonds, new dugouts, covered batting cages, scoreboards, upgraded fencing, new foul poles and renovated concession stand facilities.

“It almost brings tears to my eyes knowing that kids are going to have the best facilities in the city to be able to play a game they wanna learn and love and do better in,” said Sanford Miller, Director of Sports with Urban FAC Outreach.

The upgrades were made possible by a $1.6 million gift to the City of Knoxville from GEM Community Development Group, a construction company that pledged to bring more than $100 million in private development to the planned Smokies stadium in Downtown Knoxville.

The remaining $500,000 was used to support youth sports commissions inside the city for items such as uniforms, equipment and additional operational support.

Community recreation programs benefitting from this project include Center City Youth Sports Programs, Central Athletic Youth Association, Holston Chilhowee Recreation Commission, Knoxville Area Youth Alliance, Knoxville Falcons Youth Organization, Mechanicsville Community Athletics Association, South Knoxville Youth Sports and Emerald Youth Foundation.