by Samaria Bailey, Philadelphia Tribune

Posted:Wednesday, December 9, 2015 12:00 am

56678b2385fa2.imagePhiladelphia Youth Basketball Inc. announced plans to build a $25 million multifaceted athletic center in the Logan community.

Kenny Holdsman, the group’s CEO and the former head of Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, made the announcement last week at Cooke Elementary School. He was surrounded by dozens of supporters,including Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, Temple’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy, University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley and former Simon Gratz High School coach Bill Ellerbee.

“Our program involves basketball as a hook to attract kids and with basketball comes coaching, mentorship, leadership, character development, academic and college prep support and health and wellness,” Holdsman said. “When you involve kids and their families in all that, we’re going to give kids a great opportunity to graduate high school and get to college.”

The state-of-the-art 120,000-square-foot center will include indoor and outdoor courts, an education wing with a computer lab, library and classrooms as well as a health and wellness center. A Philadelphia basketball hall of fame will also be among the features.

Holdsman, who anticipates beginning construction in two years, said $25 million needed to be raised for the project.

“We are going to begin raising a lot of money from people from all walks of life — from people who can give $10 to $1 million,” he said.

In the meantime, PYB will continue its programs at schools in under-served communities, through partnerships with local universities.

With Temple, PYB serves students from Blaine, Cooke, Dunbar and Kelley elementary schools. Holdsman said the University of Pennsylvania as well as St. Joseph’s, LaSalle and Drexel universities will be future partners.

Cooke students described the current PYB model, in which they practice and study at the university, as a multifaceted learning experience.

“We exercise, practice and do three-on-three games,” said sixth-grader Aquilla Wootson, who added participants were learning “poetry, how to face our fears and if you want to do something, never give up.”

Elected officials, including Kenney, praised PYB’S plan, saying that “anything the city can do to make this happen, we are going to do.”

Dawn Staley said the center would be a positive addition to the neighborhood, but knows the importance having such a facility in an under-served community.

“Leadership skills, problem-solving, being able to comfortably fit in with different cultures — these are the things this facility will help with, they will need these to navigate real-life situations,” she said.

The building site is on the Logan Triangle, a parcel evacuated in the 1980s after homes began to sink.

Brian Abernathy of the city’s Redevelopment Authority says the ground stability issues will be addressed when the Goldenberg Group begins construction.

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